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The dispute over that thin strip of land called Palestine and Israel has been the single issue in the past fifty years that is dragging the world into disaster. Many Christians have foreseen this great conflict by reading the Bible, but very few really understand how God views it. This book traces the history of that conflict from the beginning.
Category - History and Prophecy
In our second chapter we showed that Esau's descendants (the nation of Edom, or Idumea) were forcibly converted to Judaism in 126 B.C. when John Hyrcanus conquered them and gave them a choice of conversion or expulsion. From that point on in history, Esau's descendants ceased to be a nation. More than that, Esau's destiny became intertwined with Judah 's, for they became one nation.
Thus, the end-time Bible prophecies regarding Esau-Edom in the book of Obadiah, Isaiah 34 and 63, Ezekiel 35 and 36, and Malachi 1:1-4 are all fulfilled simultaneously with the prophecies regarding the remnant of Judah and Jerusalem. Without understanding this Judah-Edomite merger in past history, one cannot possibly understand modern Zionism and its conflict with Ishmael and Islam.
The Jews were looking for a conquering Messiah on the order of Joshua, who had been instructed to conquer the land of Canaan and put its inhabitants to the sword. They wanted a Messiah who would overthrow the Romans by military force, accompanied by miracles. However, Jesus came as the Prince of Peace, rather than as the conquering warrior. Hence, they rejected Him as Messiah.
The people did not realize that Joshua himself would not have been a military conqueror either, if the people had been obedient to God. God was not bloodthirsty. He did not hate the Canaanites any more than Jesus hated Samaritans. The only reason God gave Israel a physical sword to establish that first " Kingdom of God " was because the people had rejected the Sword of the Spirit at Mount Sinai.
They had rejected the voice of God at Mount Sinai, when God spoke to the people verbally, and all of them heard His voice (Deut. 4:12). But they were afraid and hardened their hearts from hearing the voice of God (Ps. 95:8-11; Heb. 3:7-11). They all ran away and told Moses to go up the mount by himself and then return and tell them what God said (Ex. 20:19).
This great event, where everyone had the opportunity to hear the voice of God, was later celebrated as the " feast of weeks of the first-fruits of wheat harvest " (Ex. 34:22). Many years later, this was called in the Greek language, "Pentecost."
The point is that the Israelites in Joshua's day rejected Pentecost, and therefore, they refused the Sword of the Spirit by which they could have converted Canaan and the rest of the world. That sword was largely withheld from men until Acts 2, when Pentecost was finally fulfilled.
At the base of Mount Sinai, the people worshipped the golden calf, and as a result, the Levites used their physical swords to kill 3,000 men (Ex. 32:28). What would have happened, if those Levites had had the Sword of the Spirit at their disposal?? Look at Acts 2. The 120 disciples in the upper room were willing to hear the voice of God. God gave them the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word from the mouth that is like a sharp sword (Rev. 19:15). This is the Sword Paul mentioned in Eph. 6:17, saying,
17 And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.
The disciples took their spiritual swords down from the upper room and used it on 3,000 men in the streets below them. Acts 2:41 tells us the result:
41 So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
This is what would have happened at the base of Mount Sinai, if the Levites had had better weapons. But their rejection of the voice of Jesus Christ speaking to them from the fire on Sinai deprived them of this better and more effective weapon. This is Jesus' weapon as well, as we read in Rev. 19:15,
15 And from His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may smite the nations; and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty.
All of this shows us why Jesus did not come as a conquering warrior, but as a Prince of Peace. It explains why Jesus (Yeshua, or Joshua) did not seem to fit the pattern of the Old Testament Joshua. The reason Joshua was given a physical sword was NOT because God loves bloodshed. It was NOT because God hated Canaanites. It was NOT even because the Canaanite religion was so wicked. It was Israel 's fault for refusing to hear the voice of God. Thus, they were left with a very dull weapon that could never divide soul from spirit or discern the thoughts and intents of the heart (Heb. 4:12).
The Jews of Jesus' day could not understand this. So they were looking for another Joshua with a bloody sword with which to kill all their "enemies" and oppressors. They had heard it taught that one should love their neighbors and hate their enemies (Matt. 5:43). The gospel of hating Romans and Samaritans was accepted doctrine.
But those who DID accept Jesus were given the Sword of the Word, and they went forth to conquer the world by faith and truth. Unfortunately, since Pentecost is a leavened feast, they were only partially successful. It remains for the overcomers to finish the job. The overcomers must therefore learn to use the Sword of the Spirit effectively, for this Sword brings people to LIFE.
There is historical evidence that if Judah had accepted Jesus as Messiah, Rome soon would have given them their independence with no bloodshed at all. About the year 200 A.D. the Roman Christian lawyer, Tertullian, presented Christ to the "rulers of the Roman Empire " in a letter called Apology. In chapter 21, he writes,
"All these things Pilate did to Christ; and now in fact a Christian in his own convictions, he sent word of Him to the reigning Caesar, who was at the time Tiberius. Yes, and the Caesars too would have believed on Christ, if either the Caesars had not been necessary for the world, or if Christians could have been Caesars."
In other words, Tertullian tells us that Pontius Pilate was already a Christian by the time he informed Tiberius Caesar of Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection. In chapter five, Tertullian continues,
"Tiberius accordingly, in whose days the Christian name made its entry into the world, having himself received intelligence from Palestine of events which had clearly shown the truth of Christ's divinity, brought the matter before the Senate, with his own decision in favor of Christ. The Senate, because it had not given the approval itself, rejected the proposal. Caesar held to his opinion, threatening wrath against all accusers of the Christians."
We see here that when Tiberius Caesar read Pilate's letter telling him about Jesus, he became convinced that Jesus was a god. It was common practice in those days for the Roman Empire to recognize various gods and their religious adherents. So Tiberius proposed that the Senate proclaim Jesus to be one of the gods of the Empire. However, Roman law said that only the Senate had the right to present a new god for consideration. Since Tiberius himself had made this proposal, the Senate rejected it.
We know, of course, that this Roman rejection was part of the plan of God. But if Judah had accepted Jesus as the Messiah and King, it is certain that Pilate would have interviewed Jesus under very different circumstances. Pilate still would have become a Christian. He would have written to Tiberius Caesar, as it was his duty to keep the emperor informed of such events.
The emperor no doubt would have wanted to interview Jesus in person, at the recommendation of Pilate. Jesus would have made the trip to Rome, addressed the Senate, and I believe they would have been very impressed with His wisdom, love, humility, and miraculous signs. They would have realized very quickly that Jesus was not merely "one of the gods" that ought to be recognized officially.
I believe that soon Rome would have been proclaimed as a Christian nation, and that the pagan people would have forsaken their false gods. I believe that Judah would have been set free, along with all other nations. Or rather, all the nations that Rome ruled would have been given to Jesus Christ, the King of Kings.
We know, of course, that none of this was actually in the plan of God. God had fore-ordained a Pentecostal Age that would fail to manifest the Kingdom in its fullness. It was also necessary that Jesus be betrayed and killed as the Sacrifice for sin. Yet by looking at what might have been, we can see how Jesus' peaceful method of conquering the world is applicable today.
This is how the overcomers will overcome the world in our day under the anointing of the Feast of Tabernacles. The manifested sons of God (Rom. 8:19) will reflect the will and character of Jesus Christ to the world. This will spark a world-wide "revival," and it will not take long to bring the entire world under the feet of Jesus Christ. But it will be done by love, not by bloodshed, for we have a better sword. There will be bloodshed, of course, during this time, but it will be done by those who do not possess such a sword as ours.
In Jesus' day there were again both good figs and evil figs. The evil figs chafed under the rule of Rome, even as they had rebelled against the rule of Babylon. The more these figs rebelled, the more Rome oppressed them. The more Rome oppressed them, the more they rebelled. The situation spiraled downward until finally open revolt broke out in 66 A.D. The people of Judah destroyed Rome 's 12 th Legion at the Feast of Tabernacles that year.
Rome put down the revolt decisively. They were delayed a bit by the death of the emperor Nero in 68 A.D. But finally, at Passover of 70 A.D. the Roman armies surrounded Jerusalem and began the siege. This was precisely 40 years after John the Baptist had been executed at Passover of 30 A.D.
The city was destroyed within a few months, but the final stronghold at Masada still had to be taken. The Romans built a huge ramp of rock and earth to the top of the mountain where the fortress of Masada was located. They finished this ramp on the day before Passover of 73 A.D. That night all the evil figs at Masada committed suicide to avoid capture by the Romans. This occurred 40 years after Jesus' crucifixion at Passover of 33 A.D. The evil figs had been given 40 years of grace in which to repent of their rejection of the Messiah. Instead of repenting, they decided to do the work of the Messiah themselves and in their own violent way.
This method did not work. Jerusalem was destroyed. The temple was destroyed. Over a million were killed and others put into slavery. In the decades that followed, there were other uprisings in Mesopotamia, Egypt, Cyrene, and Cyprus. Abram Leon Sachar writes on page 121, 122 of his book, A History of the Jews,
"Trajan [the Roman Emperor from 98-116 A.D.] was compelled to send one of his ablest generals to cope with the fury of the Jews. The devastation was complete; when the last embers of the rebellion had been extinguished, it was necessary to rebuild Cyprus from its foundations. No Jew was thereafter permitted to set foot on the island, and even shipwrecked Jewish merchants who sought temporary refuge were done to death when found."
When Trajan died, Hadrian succeeded him. He was known as a man of peace, and the Jews hailed him as a second Cyrus. But Hadrian wanted to put an end to the practice of mutilation that many people practiced, so he passed a law forbidding it. This included circumcision, and this again infuriated the Jews. Secondly, Trajan made plans to rebuild Jerusalem as a Roman city, calling it Aelia Capitolina in honor of the patron god of Rome. This, too, infuriated the Jews and brought about the final revolt. Sachar writes on page 122,
"The soul of the revolt was the venerable rabbi Akiba, one of the ablest of Israel 's spiritual leaders... The Roman oppression roused the peaceful rabbi to active conflict. He centred all his hopes on a brilliant young warrior, Bar Kokba, who became the brain and sword of the revolt... Apparently, he claimed to be divinely inspired, and to his loyal followers he seemed the long-awaited Messiah.
"Everywhere throughout the country the word was heard that the end of suffering was at hand; the tyrant who had dared to desecrate the house of God would be swept away like chaff; the country would again belong to the people that had made it sacred. Every village, every hamlet, was stirred. Only the newly-formed sect of Christians rejected the authority of the Jewish leaders... The Jews believed that this last stand against the Roman eagle was like no other. It was the prelude to the establishment of God's kingdom on earth."
The revolt at first succeeded, and the altar in Jerusalem was rededicated. But Rome brought its general Severus from Britain and reconquered Judea. Sachar tells us on page 123,
"Bar Kokba and Akiba were both executed, along with all their followers... Their casualties were much greater than attended the destruction of the State in 70... Jews were forbidden on pain of death ever again to set foot in Jerusalem. Only on the ninth of Ab-the traditional anniversary of the destruction of the Temple -could Jews pay for the right to weep on the site of the old sanctuary. For centuries thereafter they 'bought their tears' weeping over the lost glories of the past, yet never abandoning the hope that some day, in God's own way, a restoration would come and the Holy Land would once again rise from the ruins, tenderly built up by Jewish hands."
This was how the revolt ended. They did not and still do not understand why this tragedy befell them. They do not understand why God did not help them win the wars. This made them bitter against God, instead of repenting of their rejection of the true Messiah. In fact, the fourth-century bishop, Eusebius, quotes Justin Martyr in his Ecclesiastical History, Book 4, viii,
"In the recent war, Bar Cochba, leader of the Jewish insurrection, ordered the Christians alone to be sentenced to terrible punishments if they did not deny Jesus Christ and blaspheme Him."
The Jews did not understand why God allowed their Roman enemies to succeed in destroying their nation and the second temple. But the explanation is simple. God had released them from an iron yoke of Babylon to a lighter, wooden yoke under Medo-Persia, Greece, and finally Rome. But they were not content with submitting for the duration of their sentence for the sins of their fathers (the evil figs). So they revolted again in 66-73 A.D., trying to throw off the wooden yoke.
They failed, because their revolt was a violation of the law itself, as explained fully by the prophet Jeremiah. In rejecting the Word of the Lord, their hearts were hardened, and this blinded them to the Messiah Himself. They rejected Him because they rejected His peaceful methods of conquering the earth.
So in this revolt against God's judgment, they again found themselves under the iron yoke, forbidden to set foot in Jerusalem, cast off among the nations as captive slaves. This condition continued until the 1940's, when the evil figs among the Jews again staged a revolt to gain possession of the land of Palestine.
Zionism is a movement among Jews who decided that God would never set them free, and that they had to do it themselves. Without repenting, of course.