Category: Israel

Israel’s deep-sea dominance

Quietly, underwater, Israel is turning into a maritime power like the United States and Russia, with an armada of advanced submarines. Germany recently agreed to provide Israel with a sixth Dolphin submarine; the Jewish state already has three. Two more will be arriving this and next year, and then the sixth one will come.

Germany also agreed to subsidize the sixth submarine, as it did with the previous ones. The first two were given to Israel for free; the Germans paid for half of the third one, and will pay for one third of the next three. In an era where the Germans are cutting back their own military because of economic hardship, this is not a trivial matter.

Germany may later sell Israel more advanced submarines of this type, and Israel is indeed interested in building a fleet of 10 submarines, which will secure its power for dozens of years to come.

The cost of every submarine is some $500M dollars, but the price may rise to $850M. Israel presented special demands for its subs and installed advanced, secret systems in them. The sixth submarine will be the most advanced and capable of staying underwater the longest.
IDF submarine in Haifa (Photo: IDF Spokesman’s Office)

The IDF’s Navy is undergoing a significant conceptual change: From serving as a border guard (which is also an important duty,) it’s shifting into Israel’s and the IDF’s strategic arm, no less so than the Air Force. Our submarines can reach any area of the world, and most certainly in this region, and our enemies do not have a reasonable response for the time being.

Best investment in peace

No regional state can afford to purchase such weapons. A few years ago it was reported that the Egyptians were also interested in acquiring Dolphin submarines from Germany. Egypt’s subs are outdated, and Cairo became anxious because of Israel’s dominance in deep water, which the Egyptians have no response for. However, negotiations did not advance, and today Cairo’s military regime has no money for such subs.

Meanwhile, the Iranians are monitoring with concern the German reports about the provision of three more subs to Israel, knowing Tehran has no response for this either. In order to show they possess an alternative, Iran’s outdated subs have been recently traveling to the Red Sea as provocation vis-à-vis the long-range Israeli presence. This is also the reason why an Iranian vessel recently crossed through the Suez Cannel en route to the Mediterranean: In order to show that Iran is a superpower after all.

Sun Tzu, who wrote The Art of War, already taught us how to produce deterrence: If the enemy estimates that it will suffer grave damage should it attack you, it will curb itself. And this is the significance of the submarines: Iran could theoretically strike Israel with missiles, yet it knows, according to foreign reports, that Tehran may pay an existential price. Even if Israel’s offensive and defensive capabilities are destroyed, the blow against Iran shall arrive from the sea – and it will most certainly arrive.

If Iran realizes that it will have to pay a terrible price, it won’t attack. And indeed, global media outlets are reporting that an Israeli submarine constantly sails near Iran’s shores. This is deterrence. Once Israel will possess six submarines, and possible more, it will signify Israeli control over a huge area.

While submarines are a powerful weapon of war, Israel’s subs are in fact the surest guarantee for maintaining Mideastern stability and order. The subs guarantee that the risk of war will decline, rather than grow. With such power, Israel is the guardian of the sea and of stability in our region, and this is the best investment in regional peace.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=3493

Almost half of the population of Israel wants to see the holy temple rebuilt in Jerusalem

In a recent nationwide poll taken by the Knesset Israel’s legislative body, 49% of the body politic of Israel said they want to see the holy temple rebuilt on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem where there once stood two previous Jewish temples. The last one, Herod’s temple, was destroyed in 70AD by the Roman soldiers led by General Titus.

The Israeli public is about evenly split on whether they believe the temple will be rebuilt with a slight edge 42% – 39% to those who believe that the third temple will be rebuilt. Given the current political climate, the onset of construction of the temple is not likely to go over quietly in the Islamic world which currently has day to day control of the Temple Mount.

Jimmy’s Prophetic Prospective on the News

The almost 50% of Israelis who want to see the holy Jewish temple rebuilt in Jerusalem are in perfect harmony with what the Bible reveals will happen in the last days.

In a recent national poll carried out in Israel, 49% of the Israelis said that they want to see the rebuilding of the third temple in Jerusalem on the Temple Mount. The Temple Mount has been the location of two previous temples, the one built by King Solomon some 3000 years ago and the one built by Zerubbabel 2500 years ago. The second temple, known as Herod’s Temple, because it took Herod 46 years to refurbish Zerubbabel’s temple, was referred to by the rabbis as the temple that if you had never seen it, you had never seen a beautiful building.

Since 70AD, when Herod’s Temple was destroyed, there have been countless efforts to rebuild it on the Temple Mount. The ancient Jewish prophet Daniel said that there will be a third temple in Jerusalem during the seven year Tribulation period (Daniel 9:27). Jesus confirmed Daniel’s prophecy in his Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24:15) when He said, when you see the abomination of desolation in the temple, flee Jerusalem. That abomination will be the Antichrist entering the temple and claiming to be God (II Thessalonians 2:4). Revelation 11:1 guarantees that there will be a temple in Jerusalem. John the Revelator was told to measure the location for the next Jewish temple.

50% of Israelis are right – there will be a temple in Jerusalem and maybe very soon now. Bible prophecy will be fulfilled.

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Israel, Cyprus gas finds spur Mediterranean race

Israel’s biggest gas discovery, potentially turning the fuel importer into an exporter, is prompting a race by nations from Lebanon to Turkey to tap similar deposits in disputed waters of the East Mediterranean.

Noble Energy is developing the Leviathan and Tamar fields off Israel that hold about 30 trillion cubic feet of gas, more than triple the UK’s remaining reserves and worth about $670 billion at today’s prices. The Houston-based company also is behind the Aphrodite discovery off Cyprus.

With the US estimating the region holds about 122 trillion cubic feet of gas, enough to supply the world for one year, Lebanon and Turkey stepped up prospecting. Territorial disputes will have to be resolved first or the potential will remain untapped.

“All sides are looking at the eastern Mediterranean in a new light, but at the same time border disputes remain very important,” said Charles Gurdon, managing director of London- based risk assessor Menas Associates. “In the end, most of these cases will have to go to international arbitration.”

Countries in the region will have to temper disputes over maritime borders and sovereignty before companies such as BP, Total and Royal Dutch Shell can realize its potential as an export hub, according to the Observatoire Mediterraneen de l’Energie, an industry group.

“Joint exploitation of resources may change the whole political situation for the benefit of the region,” said Sohbet Karbuz, an oil and gas director at OME. “Energy can also become an extension of politics by other means.”

The Lebanese-Israeli maritime border remains undefined

Lebanon and Israel have no defined maritime border, while Turkey doesn’t recognize the Greek Cypriot-led government of the Republic of Cyprus and relations with Israel have soured since Turkish activists died on a Gaza-bound flotilla two years ago. Tensions boiled over when Turkey sent an exploration vessel accompanied by warships and jets to stop Cyprus drilling for oil and gas last year.

“The sides are implacably opposed, whether it’s northern and southern Cyprus, whether it’s Turkey and Cyprus, whether it’s Israel and Lebanon,” said Gurdon at Menas, which advises Exxon Mobil Corp., BP and Chevron Corp. among others. “In the end, people want to determine where the territory starts and stops.”

Cyprus will award permits covering 12 offshore blocks south of the island in its second licensing round, open for bids until May, according to Solon Kassinis, director of the energy service at the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism. Turkey also plans to start drilling for oil off northern Cyprus later this month, Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said in Istanbul today.

Egypt is planning to hold a licensing round in the Mediterranean after the Leviathan and Aphrodite discoveries, Gurdon said in a presentation in London today.

Gas discoveries in the Mediterranean abundant

The East Mediterranean could become the “second North Sea” following Cyprus’s first offshore gas discovery last year, Kassinis said.

“The Lebanese have systematically refused to talk to us about border issues, whether territorial or maritime, and have unilaterally submitted their claims to the UN,” said Yigal Palmor, an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman. “We therefore have no choice but to submit our own claims to the UN as well, but the preferred solution is obviously direct negotiations.”

The North Sea, where Britain and Norway pump most of the oil and gas, is the world’s sixth-largest supplier of crude. While it still holds more than 26 billion barrels of oil equivalent resources, extraction peaked at the beginning of the last decade, UK government data show.

Israel, Cyprus considering pipeline

As North Sea production declines, energy producers are looking to other regions, including the Mediterranean, to meet rising gas demand as countries seek alternatives to Russian supplies.

Cyprus is working with Israel, 480 kilometers south across the Mediterranean Sea, on the potential construction of a pipeline to connect their gas fields. The link would allow the countries to meet domestic demand before liquefying the fuel for export, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on February 16.

Israel is examining plans to ship liquefied natural gas, or LNG, as far as Asia after 2018, said Gerry Peereboom, a director at Noble Energy. Israel may also pump gas to Egyptian LNG plants, said Raafat El-Beltagy, deputy chairman of Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Co. LNG Exports

“Israel is now in the position to decide whether they’ll allow the companies that hold these gas resources for export to the international market,” said Richard Quin, an analyst on the Middle East and North Africa at Wood Mackenzie Consultants Ltd. “The challenges of exporting LNG from Israel are quite substantial. It could easily be a decade for exports actually to happen.”

The Aphrodite field spans waters between Cyprus and Israel. Noble and other international oil companies have stayed away from northern Cypriot waters as tensions with Turkey persist, maintaining divisions that have split the island since Turkey invaded the north in 1974. Turkey has said development projects should await resolution of Cyprus’s political status.

“The issue of Turkey remains absolutely critical, because Turkey doesn’t recognize Cyprus’s rights” to award licenses, Menas’s Gurdon said. “Turkey may adopt gunboat diplomacy and it may be difficult for Cyprus to search for and develop fields which are close to northern Cyprus.”

The European Union, which only recognizes the Republic of Cyprus, has withheld elements of Turkey’s EU membership talks as it calls on the country to acknowledge the island nation and help resolve its ethnic divisions. Turkey has said it’s open to collaboration to exploit the region’s resources and market the fuel abroad.

Turkey seeks to maintain status as energy gateway

“Potential cooperation may at last bring peace and stability to the region,” said Ayse Berris Ekinci, acting deputy director for energy at Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “Turkey represents the safest, most feasible and affordable gateway for the eastern Mediterranean natural gas resources to the European markets.”

Turkey’s state oil producer Turkiye Petrolleri AO struck an agreement with Shell in November to explore off the city of Antalya, away from Cypriot waters. Turkey has also received interest from companies including Exxon Mobil, BP, Chevron, Total and ConocoPhillips to explore in its east Mediterranean waters, according to the Energy Ministry.

Cyprus is due to take over the EU’s rotating presidency on July 1, potentially boosting its clout in negotiations. The island’s Aphrodite discovery is only 65 kilometers from Israel’s Leviathan field, the world’s biggest offshore gas find of 2010. The Tamar field off Israel, discovered a year earlier, is due to start output next year.

“The latest discoveries will certainly be a source of dialogue between the countries,” said Rob West, a London-based oil analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. “It’s just not clear whether the dialogue will involve disputes over resource entitlement or rather cooperation.”

Claims over gas fields in the region’s Levant Basin extend to Lebanon, Israel’s northern neighbor and 100 miles across the sea from Cyprus.

Lebanon has said some Israeli fields may stretch into its waters and has asked the United Nations to intervene to prevent a conflict over exploration areas as the country gears up for its first offshore oil and gas bidding round this year. Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, which fought a war with Israel in 2006, has repeatedly pledged to protect the nation’s offshore resources.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=3435

Isaac Newton, Daniel’s 70 Weeks & the Six Day War

 If you have ever spent any time studying Daniel’s seventy-weeks prophecy you might have been somewhat annoyed by the first seven weeks.

“Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.”(Da 9:25)

Frankly, it seems to just be dangling there without a purpose.  Most prophecy teachers simply add the two together to make sixty-nine weeks without saying much about why it is “seven and threescore and two (62).” Well, this bothered Newton too. He explained the odd seven weeks as referring to the second coming, after a future restoration of Israel which had not yet occurred! He explained the verse in this way:

Know also and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to cause to return and to build Jerusalem, unto the Anointed the Prince, shall be seven weeks.

The former part of the Prophecy related to the first coming of Christ, being dated to his coming as a Prophet; this being dated to his coming to be Prince or King, seems to relate to his second coming. There, the Prophet was consummate, and the most holy anointed: here, he that was anointed comes to be Prince and to reign. For Daniel’s Prophecies reach to the end of the world; and there is scarce a Prophecy in the Old Testament concerning Christ, which doth not in something or other relate to his second coming. If divers of the antients, as Irenæus, Julius Africanus, Hippolytus the martyr, and Apollinaris Bishop of Laodicea, applied the half week to the times of Antichrist; why may not we, by the same liberty of interpretation, apply the seven weeks to the time when Antichrist shall be destroyed by the brightness of Christ’s coming?[i]

He puts the first seven in the future after the second rebuilding of Jerusalem. Jerusalem was reclaimed by Israel during the Six Days War in June of 1967. Recall that in the seventy-weeks paradigm, the “seven” is seven weeks of years which is (7 x 7) forty-nine years. T. W. Tramm explains a remarkable concurrence:

June 7, 1967 falls in the Hebrew year 5727, adding forty-nine prophetic years to this date we arrive in the Hebrew year 5776, which is 2015 on the Gregorian calendar. Interestingly, if one counts exactly forty-nine (360 day) prophetic years (17,640 days) from the June 7, 1967 date of Jerusalem’s recapture, we arrive at September 23, 2015—the Day of Atonement! Coincidence?[ii]

We verified this remarkable match but we also noted that if one counts 49 x 365 days for solar years, one lands in 2016 which corresponds nicely with historical approach of AD 756 the acceding of temporal power to the pope plus 1260 derived from Revelation 11:3. Although no man knows the day or hour, it is hard to ignore the remarkable preponderance of prophecy pointing to the period we have entered.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=3409

Israel Strikes Oil Off Tel Aviv Coast

Israel has struck oil again, this time off the Tel Aviv coast. Developers maintain the find includes 100 million barrels of oil, worth $10 billion.

Modiin Energy and Adira Energy discovered an estimated 128 million barrels of oil and 1.8 trillion cubic feet of gas in their Gabriella and Yitzhak licenses, in shallow water less than 15 miles northwest of Tel Aviv.

Officials called the find “significant” and added, “Surveys conducted in recent months found oil in the target strata. The potential oil reservoir is 128 million barrels of oil, and the contingent reserves are an additional 120 million barrels.”

“Bottom line, there is oil. It’s 100 percent. Secondly, the quantities are commercial,” said Tzachi Sultan, controlling shareholder of Modiin.

The Gabriella license is near shore in shallow water. “At a time of soaring oil prices, this is good news for IDB, Modiin, Adira, said Chaim Gavriella, CEO of the IDB  holding company that owns most of Gabriella’s shares.

The oil was defined as “ high quality” and reportedly can be extracted even easier than the gas.

The amount of oil is estimated to meet Israel’s needs for 18 months, in addition to other energy finds in the Tamar and Leviathan fields off the Haifa coast. Companies developing those fields say there is enough gas and perhaps oil to turn Israel into an exporter.

Sultan said drilling will begin by the end of the year and that it will take approximately five years for the first well to start producing oil.

Adira CEO Jeffrey Walter was ecstatic. “I said that I came to find oil and gas and was laughed at. I was told that there is no oil here. They were wrong,” he told Globes.

The discoveries of oil and gas are expected to provide thousands of new jobs for engineers and others needed to work on infrastucture, and the forecast ability of Israel to be self-sufficient could eventually lead to a large decline in domestic fuel prices and a stronger shekel.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=3252

“Pure for God” Seal Found in Temple Mount Excavation

A rare seal certifying the ritual purity of an item to be used in the Second Temple in Jerusalem was discovered by the Israel Antiquities Authority as part of excavations under the Robinson’s Arch right next to the Temple Mount.

A rare seal certifying the ritual purity of an item to be used in the Second Temple in Jerusalem was discovered by the Israel Antiquities Authority as part of excavations under the Robinson’s Arch right next to the Temple Mount.

The find of the Aramaic inscription, “Pure for G-d”, occurred during an extensive sifting of soil removed from layers which were once part of a paved Herodian street serving as a main Jerusalem thoroughfare. The soil dates to the first century CE (late Second Temple period), just prior to – or maybe even during – the Maccabean rebellion celebrated during the holiday of Hanukkah.

The item is stamped with an Aramaic inscription consisting of two lines – in the upper line “דכא” (pure) and below it “ליה” (to G-d) – and is probably the kind of seal referred to in the Mishnah as a “seal (Tractate Shekalim 5:1-5), according to excavation directors and archaeologists Eli Shukron of the Israel Antiquities Authority and Professor Ronny Reich of the University of Haifa.

“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time that such an object or anything similar to it was discovered in an archaeological excavation and it constitutes direct archaeological evidence of the activity on the Temple Mount and the workings of the Temple during the Second Temple period”, Shukron and Reich said.

Jerusalem District Archaeologist Dr. Yuval Baruch drew a connection between the find and Hanukkah. “It is written in the Gemara (Talmud Bavli, Tractate Shabbat 2:21) that the only cruse of oil that was discovered in the Temple after the victory of the Maccabees over the Greeks, “lay with the seal of the High Priest” – that is, the seal indicated that the oil is pure and can be used in the Temple. Remember, this cruse of oil was the basis for the miracle of Hanukkah that managed to keep the menorah lit for eight days”, Baruch noted.

Other items discovered in the excavation included oil lamps, ceramic cooking pots and Hasmonean coins dating to kings Alexander Jannaeus and John Hyrcanus.

The findings were presented Sunday at a press conference attended by Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat and Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar at Ir David (the City of David).

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=2867

The Vatican Wants to Lay its Hands on Jerusalem

Peace negotiations in the Middle East must tackle the issue of the status of the holy sites of Jerusalem”, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, head of the Vatican’s Council for Interreligious Dialogue, declared several days ago in Rome.

The Vatican’s former foreign minister asked to place some Israeli holy places under Vatican authority, alluding to the Cenacle on Mount Zion and the garden of Gethsemane at the foot of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.

The first site also houses what is referred to as King David’s tomb. 

“There will not be peace if the question of the holy sites is not adequately resolved”, Tauran said. “The part of Jerusalem within the walls – with the holy sites of the three religions – is humanity’s heritage. The sacred and unique character of the area must be safeguarded and it can only be done with a special, internationally-guaranteed statute”.

The Israeli government and the Vatican are deadlocked in discussions over the status of the religious sites. Vatican officials are now reiterating their demand for control over the religious sites in the ancient and holy city founded by King David as the capital of ancient Israel and now the capital of the reestablished Jewish state.

Danny Ayalon, Israel’s deputy foreign minister, declared that Israel might consider giving the Vatican “a greater role” in operating the sites. In the last weeks, the Roman Catholic Church’s authorities increased their political initiatives for Catholic control over some sites in Jerusalem.

The Vatican’s former arcibishop in Jerusalem, Michel Sabbah, just promoted an appeal to the European Union and United States to “stop the Hebraization of Jerusalem”.

Two weeks ago Msgr. David-Maria Jaeger, who was recently appointed by Pope Benedict XVI to the Vatican’s highest court, talked in Washington about a current U.S. Supreme Court case over whether an American boy born in Jerusalem should add Israel after the name of the historic city on his U.S. passport. Jaeger said that the question about Jerusalem is not “whether it is the capital of Israel, it is a question of whether it is a part of a national territory”.

A few days earlier, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal, gave a speech to greet the bishops of Europe and North America during their annual pilgrimage in Israel, in which Twal denounced “the Israeli right wing invading more and more of Jerusalem and trying to transform it into an only Hebrew-Jewish city, excluding the other faiths”.

Claudette Habesch, the Caritas general-secretary in Jerusalem, a Vatican NGO that works in social activities, just released an interview to Zenit news agency, in which he “christianized” the Palestinian Intifada against “what we call the Checkpoint of Humiliation”.

In September, Patriarch of Jerusalem Twal was at the White House for a meeting with the American administration as well as to support the PA statehood bid at the UN. Twal repeated Benedict XVI’s speech of May 13, 2009 in the Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem, one of the most political speeches ever pronounced by Ratzinger during his pontificate. It was given in front of the most eloquent symbol of the conflict: the security wall between Israel and the PA areas.

On that day the Pope spoke specifically of an “independent Palestinian state”.

The Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi, the Vatican’s powerful agency for worldwide pilgrimages, just organized a “marathon for peace” in Jerusalem to protest against the security fence near Bethlehem and to support “Palestinian political rights”. The march began on the Mount of Olives, “where the Last Supper took place”.

On December 1st, several Christian and Muslim dignitaries met in Beit Sahour for a conference on “How to live together in a future Palestinian state?”. Patriarch Emeritus of Jerusalem Michel Sabbah and Sheikh Muhammad Ahmad Hussein, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, also attended the event organized by Al-Liqa, a Vatican ecumenical center based in Bethlehem.

Sabbah said that “recourse to the UN for a Palestinian state is a step toward peace”. Last summer, Latin Patriarch Twal took part in a meeting in London with Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury, in which the Vatican envoy denounced the “more than 550.000 Israelis living in East Jerusalem and the West Bank” and “the demography of Jerusalem changing rapidly with the sacred space being threatened”.

In 2006, then Israel’s Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, negotiated to give away the “holy basin” to the Vatican.

At the time, President Moshe Katzav, in the face of increasing public pressure, was forced to deny any plans to sign away the King David’s complex in Jerusalem.

It now appears that this option has once again surfaced. A major voice for the Vatican’s plan is Hanna Siniora, the elder statesman of Palestinian ‘peace’ activists, whose office is in the Vatican’s Tantur Institute for Ecumenical Studies in Jerusalem.

The site known as King David’s Tomb is the major target in the Vatican’s plan. It’s a complex of buildings of some 100,000 square feet where David and Solomon, and kings of Judea, are said to be buried, although this is disputed by historians.

The Upper Room, or Cenacle, as it is known, is on the second floor of the Crusader-era building. During his visit to Israel in 2000, Pope John Paul II held Mass there. The Roman Catholic Church has been fighting for more than 450 years to win back control over the sanctuary, which was seized from Franciscan monks during the Ottoman Empire’s rule around 1551.

The building was granted to the Diaspora Yeshiva over 40 years ago, and yeshiva heads fear that the Vatican wishes to turn it into a pilgrimage site for hundreds of thousands of Catholics and hold religious services there.

The Vatican wants Israel relinquishing sovereignty at the Western Wall and the Temple Mount. The Holy See uses the expression “Holy Basin”, which refers to the area of the Temple Mount, the Mount of Olives, Mount Zion and a variety of Christian holy sites which the administration of former U.S. President Bill Clinton began reccomending be administered under a “special regime”.

The Obama plan also calls for resolving the two thorniest issues in the conflict by sharing Jerusalem and settling Arab refugees in Arab countries or a future Palestinian state, but not in Israel. According to Obama, the Old City of Jerusalem would be designated an “international zone”.

Israel’s President Shimon Peres, who has no authority, also agreed to hand over to the Vatican the sovereignty of the holy sites.

Any Vatican claim to a seat at the negotiating table is undermined by the complicity of the Vatican between 1948 and 1967. During the Jordanian occupation, Judaism’s holiest sites were desecrated and Jews were barred from visiting these shrines. The Jordanians built a hotel and a road through the Jewish cemetery on Mount of Olives and they used the broken headstones to build the latrines in the construction of the Intercontintental Hotel, which likely rests on burial grounds.

As was its practice during the Holocaust under Pius XII, the Vatican then turned a deaf ear to these gross violations of Jewish human rights.

If Israel would cede Jewish sovereignty on the holy sites, it would mean returning to a time when Jerusalem was separated by a seven-kilometer wall, barbed wire, minefields and bunkers. A tourist visiting the holy city would have found signs warning “Danger – Frontier ahead!”, “Snipers nearby” and “shetah hahefker”, which in Hebrew means: No-Man’s Land. 

It would be Sarajevo, not the Holy City of Jerusalem. 

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=2854

Jerusalem: A Cup of Trembling

A Cup of Trembling

By Jack Kelley

This is the word of the Lord concerning Israel. The Lord, Who stretches out the Heavens Who lays the foundations of the Earth, and Who forms the spirit of man within him declares, “I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling. Judah will be besieged as well as Jerusalem.

On that day when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves” (Zech 12:1-3).

True, the ultimate fulfillment of this passage will come at the very end of the age, but a careful reading shows the progressive nature of the prophecy. First the surrounding nations will be sent reeling, with both Judah (West Bank) and Jerusalem besieged. Ultimately all the nations of the earth will be involved, and those who move against Jerusalem will wind up injuring themselves. And please don’t miss the way the Author identifies Himself: the One Who stretches out the heavens, lays the foundation of the earth and forms man’s spirit within him. Not much doubt as to Who’s speaking, so we better pay attention.

When Will These Things Happen?

It’s safe to say that all the nations of the earth are troubled over Jerusalem today. They realize the ease with which the whole world could be drawn into a conflict in the Middle East. And almost all are already aligned against Jerusalem. Remember, the prophecy is initially focused on the surrounding peoples and indicates that Judah and Jerusalem will be besieged. The degree to which this part of the prophecy is already being fulfilled is frightening. Much of the land bordering Israel has become little more than an armed camp, filled with troops at the ready.

Hezbollah has been moving their rockets and missiles into position again with Lebanon’s full support, while steadily increasing their inventories of weaponry. Syria also has troops along Israel’s northern border as well as missiles set to fire upon Israeli cities. In the South Hamas and the PA are no less prepared. Recent reports confirm that large numbers of rockets and missiles from Libya have turned up in Gaza. Together, these next door neighbors claim that every city in Israel is now within missile range. In it’s headline report on Dec. 5, 2011 Debkafile assessed the likelihood of war in the Middle East, including an Israeli attack on Iran, to be very high between mid-December and mid-January. The US and Russia have both stationed powerful fleets in the Eastern Mediterranean against this possibility. There’s still time for diplomacy but for now no one believes a diplomatic solution will be forthcoming.

Psalm 83

As a result, this is beginning to look like a run-up to Psalm 83, a battle that’s never happened, but involves all of Israel’s next door neighbors in an effort to “destroy them as a nation, that the name of Israel be remembered no more” (Psalm 83:4). The Psalmist pleads with God to pursue Israel’s neighbors with His tempest and terrify them with His storm so they will perish in disgrace (Psalm 83:15-17). I believe his prayer will be answered because this outcome is necessary to set the stage for Ezekiel 38-39.

Isaiah 17, An Oracle Against Damascus

We should also consider what could be a related prophecy from Isaiah 17. It was partially fulfilled in 732 BC when the Assyrians conquered Damascus (Aram). But never did Damascus cease to be inhabited as the prophecy requires (Isaiah 17:1). In fact to this day Damascus is described as the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world, over 5000 years and counting. The fortified city in vs. 3 was Samaria, capital of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. It was destroyed by the Assyrians in 722 BC. The Northern Kingdom consisted of the 10 tribes of Israel who rebelled in the religious upheaval that followed King Solomon’s death and was allied with Damascus against Assyria. Like Damascus it was defeated and its people carried off into captivity. Since Damascus was never destroyed and never ceased being inhabited, the world may have seen a partial fulfillment in history that points to a total fulfillment yet future to us.

Validating Prophecy

This is not unusual in Bible prophecy where the complete fulfillment of a passage may unfold over thousands of years. You receive an example of this in the mail every Christmas. It comes in the form of a Christmas card that says,

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given. And the government will be on his shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace” (Isa 9:6).

The passage goes on to explain that He will sit on David’s throne and reign in peace forever.

Only the first phrase of this passage has come to pass. The Child was born, the Son was given. The rest of the passage awaits His 2nd coming, but the fact that He was born confirms that the rest will take place as well. Partial fulfillment is the Lord’s way of validating End Times prophecies thousands of years in advance.

The Oracle against Damascus is a lot like the one against Babylon in Isaiah 13-14, where Babylon is also described as being so totally destroyed that it would never be inhabited again. For many years scholars believed this prophecy was fulfilled when the Medes and Persians conquered Babylon about 535 BC. It took the Gulf War to show us that Saddam Hussein had spent billions re-building Babylon, and to realize that Babylon was never destroyed in the manner the Bible describes. It has in fact been occupied almost continuously since its construction 2700 years ago. The City of Babylon will play a major role in world events at the end of the age before its final and total destruction, foretold in Rev. 18.

Back To Damascus

Admittedly the Oracle against Damascus in Isaiah 17 is somewhat more obscure. Scholars who place fulfillment of this passage in our time rely on four things:

  1. The phrase in vs. 1 “Damascus will no longer be a city”
  2. The multiple use of the phrase “in that day” through out the passage (vs. 4, 7, 9) which often hints of the end times
  3. Men will “Look to their Maker and turn their eyes to the Holy One of Israel,” see below,
  4. The mention of many nations in vs.12-14 would seem to include more than just Assyria.

Regarding point 3 there was a temporary revival in the southern kingdom under King Hezekiah that spared Jerusalem from the Assyrians, but nowhere is a revival in the northern kingdom or among the Arameans (Damascus was the capital of Aram) or Assyrians mentioned in history. And yet in Isaiah 19:23-25 Assyria is mentioned with Egypt and Israel as being called “My people, My handiwork, and My inheritance” by God in the millennium. This reconciliation with God is still in the future.

Soon And Very Soon

The USA and Europe have been warning Israel that an attack on Iran would not only result in a wider war in the Middle East, but would also deliver a severe blow to an already reeling world economy. Because of this US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta recently said that Israel has to come to terms with a Nuclear Iran, an Islamized Middle East, and reliance on the US for protection.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said sometimes making a risky decision carries a heavy price, but the price for not making it would be heavier. Reliable observers interpret this to mean when the time comes to attack Iran, whatever repercussions it could cause will not be considered in light of the threat to Israel’s continued existence. We’ll soon know whether that time has come.

You can almost hear the Footsteps of the Messiah!

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=2826

Is Elam [Iran’s] Destiny Spoken of in Jeremiah 49:34-39?

The word of the LORD that came to Jeremiah the prophet against Elam in the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah king of Judah, saying,

Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Behold, I will break the bow of Elam, the chief of their might.

And upon Elam will I bring the four winds from the four quarters of heaven, and will scatter them toward all those winds; and there shall be no nation whither the outcasts of Elam shall not come.

For I will cause Elam to be dismayed before their enemies, and before them that seek their life: and I will bring evil upon them, even my fierce anger, saith the LORD; and I will send the sword after them, till I have consumed them:

And I will set my throne in Elam, and will destroy from thence the king and the princes, saith the LORD.

But it shall come to pass in the latter days, that I will bring again the captivity of Elam, saith the LORD.

Matthew Henry Commentary on Jeremiah – Jeremiah 49:34-39

The Elamites were the Persians; they acted against God’s Israel, and must be reckoned with. Evil pursues sinners. God will make them know that he reigns. Yet the destruction of Elam shall not be forever.

But this promise was to have its full accomplishment in the days of the Messiah. In reading the Divine assurance of the destruction of all the enemies of the church, the believer sees that the issue of the holy war is not doubtful.

It is blessed to recollect, that He who is for us, is more than all against us. And he will subdue the enemies of our souls.

Koenig’s perspective: This could very likely be separate from Iran’s role in the Gog and Magog war of Ezekiel 38-39. Could this happen in 2011-2012?

A side note: Purim begins at sunset on Wednesday, March 7, 2012, and ends at sunset on Thursday, March 8, 2012.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=2668

Turkey: Starting Something with Israel

In another maneuver to make trouble between Washington and Jerusalem, the Turkish Hurriyet carried a made-up story accusing US Republican sources of leaking a UN Report which maintained Israel’s Gaza’s blockade – and therefore its interception of a Turkish vessel and flotilla in May 2010 – was legal. The report, leaked to the New York Times Friday, Sept. 9, also criticized Israeli commandos for excessive force for defending themselves in a clash which led to the deaths of nine “peace activists” aboard the ship.

The report was commissioned by the UN Secretary General from a panel headed by former New Zealand Prime Minister Sir Jeffrey Palmer.
Hurriyet charged that the Palmer report was leaked to the NYT by the same friends of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu who arranged his speech last May to the two Houses of Congress.

debkafile sources report: The Turkish newspaper’s spiteful claim was slanted to upset President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who have been trying to mend the Ankara-Jerusalem breach, and justify the fury of Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and his foreign minister Ahmed Davutoglu at being caught in the wrong by the UN panel (which accused them of not doing enough to prevent the violence and the flotilla’s “reckless” mission).

Friday, Ankara expelled the Israeli ambassador, suspended defense contracts with Jerusalem, announced legal action against senior Israeli figures in European courts, threatened to bring the dispute before the international court and “take measures for freedom of maritime movement in the Mediterranean.”
Israel continued to brush off the Turkish ultimatum to apologize for the nine deaths and end the Gaza blockade.  Hurriyet quoted an unnamed Israeli official as replying: “They can go to hell. They will see what respecting international maritime law means when… our navy sails into the international waters of the Mediterranean.”

US sources told debkafile that the Erdogan government’s outpouring of vindictive misinformation with a view to upsetting relations between the Obama administration and the Israeli government would cut no ice. Mixing in American domestic politics to misdirect its international crises was a dangerous game.

The Turkish Navy, they added, is no match for Israeli missile boat technology and their electronic jamming and tracking systems. Neither do the Turks have advanced submarines like Israel’s German-made Dolphins or close air cover.

US sources following the dispute also dismissed as hollow Davutoglu’s follow-up threat Saturday, Sept. 3: “If Israel persists with its current position,” he warned, “the Arab spring will give rise to a strong Israel opposition as well as the debate on the authoritarian regimes.”
Washington sources condemned such statements as beyond the acceptable diplomatic bounds. “It sounds as though Ankara is threatening to stir up the Palestinian and Israeli Arab populations against the Israeli government and army. If that’s what Davutoglu meant to say, Turkey is sailing very close to the wind and risks President Obama and European governments suspending their participation in NATO operations in the Middle East.

Should Israel complain to the UN Security Council about Turkish war threats and the incitement to revolt by one UN member against another, Western powers would vote for a resolution of condemnation against Turkey.

debkafile‘s sources in Washington and various European capitals warn that the unbridled vendetta Erdogan and his foreign minister are waging against Israel will boomerang against them. Early Sunday, Sept. 4, an American official proposed “calling their bluff.” He disclosed Turkey may try and act as though it calls the shots as the leading Middle East diplomatic and economy, with enough leverage over the the Arab uprisings to channel their fury against Israel. However, Turkey is far from being on solid ground. Indeed, he reveals, economically Turkey is no better than a paper tiger, hiding a galloping crisis behind its anti-Israel rhetoric:
1. Ankara’s published impressive GDP growth rate of 11 percent is artificially inflated by out-of-control credit pumped out by its central bank to create a short-term bubble. In fact, Turkey is fast sliding into deep economic slump. Its current account deficit has reached almost the same crisis level as those of Greece and Portugal and its currency faces devaluation.

Last week, Turkey’s military chiefs, traditional guardians of the country’s secular constitution, resigned in a body in protest against the imprisonment of scores of high-ranking officers for allegedly plotting against the government.
Erdogan is therefore locked into the twin crisis of a failing economy and a deep rift within his administration. US and European intelligence circles wonder about his ability to govern for much longer. They are concerned that he may drum up a military clash between the Turkish and Israel navies to distract popular attention from the troubles besetting his country. ” For the Turkish prime minister, that would be a no-win road,” said those sources.
2.  They also criticized as unwise the Turkish foreign minister’s implied threat to bring the Arab Revolt to Israel’s doorstep. He would be better advised, they said, to deal with the far more palpable danger of the  Syrian uprising spilling over into Turkey.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=1886