Would things be looking up, or should we anticipate more gloom?
How quickly a year comes and goes! As Zephaniah the prophet notes, “The great day of the LORD is near, it is near, and HASTED GREATLY… (Zeph. 1:14).
The Gentile year 2008 has been ushered in; 2007 now exists as only a memory. While the year, for the most part, did not witness major conflicts and disasters on the scales of the Asian Tsunami of 2005 and Hurricane Katrina of 2006, 2007, like all other years, was not without its low points and incidents, some verging on the melodramatic.
Diplomatic vitriol was especially intense, as the West represented by the United States traded sharp-tongued rhetoric with its emergent ‘rival powers’ led by Iran and Venezuela.
Elsewhere low-scale, seemingly intractable conflicts continued, resulting in needless suffering and deaths in Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia. When all is said and done, however, the year appeared to have ended with peace bells chiming in the new year. Even the usually harsh exchanges between Washington and Tehran seemed to have taken on a conciliatory tone as the year raced to a close. With the latest US intelligence report on Iran (released early December) suggesting the Islamic Republic abandoned its nuclear weapons programme in 2003, Tehran, for the first time in many years, toned down its hostile rhetoric towards America, welcoming the report.
Meanwhile, the US-sponsored Annapolis Conference on the Middle East (Nov. ending) reignites the mother of all peace talks designed to bring long-time foes Israel and the Palestinians back to the negotiation table and away from the war front.
But will the peace efforts bear fruit? The 1993 Oslo Accords which established the Palestinian Authority turned out to be merely an important-looking piece of paper as in 2000 Palestinian Intifada and Israeli retaliatory measures ripped it apart, shattering dreams of a Palestinian state existing alongside Israel in peace and security. And since 2003 when the “road map” peace plan was launched, the journey towards Middle East peace has been a grueling trudge through a terrain of mistrust impeded at every turn by terror and violence from both sides. Between despair and hope, the former appears more probable.
If the current Middle East peace efforts hold, how will that affect your future? If they don’t, what will the years ahead bring?
If you believe in the power and truth of Bible prophecy, it’s time you realized that a major end-time prophecy is taking shape! Jerusalem is destined to play a pivotal role in events of the very last days.
And the time-frame set at Annapolis for “final-status” talks on Jerusalem among others brings this momentous end-time prophecy eerily closer to fulfillment. At the Annapolis Conference in the US State of Maryland, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel and President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority agreed to re-launch final-status peace talks (drawing final borders for Israel and the envisioned Palestinian State, right of return or compensation for Palestinian refugees, division of Jerusalem, etc) with the goal of reaching Palestinian Statehood agreement by the end of 2008. Within the space of just one year!
But as analysts point out the thorniest issue of all will be determining and agreeing on the final status of Jerusalem. Although the current Israeli government appears willing to make concessions on Jerusalem (the eastern half of which was captured and reunited by Israel in the Six-Day War of 1967), it would not publicly admit so. The political fallout will be too much to bear. Considering Jewish and Israeli attachment to the holy city, the Olmert government (a coalition made up of Kadima and junior partners the religious Shas party and Yisreol Beiteinu party) will not risk the expected backlash which could possibly collapse it.
Still, Jerusalem is on the negotiation table with the Palestinians demanding East Jerusalem (including the Temple Mount) as the capital of their future State. Without doubt, a tug of war has ensued over Jerusalem between Israel and the Palestinians, with neither side likely to compromise easily. This sticking-point alone may well block the peace talks.
For many analysts and ‘global elites’ the solution lies in internationalizing Jerusalem—making it neither Jewish nor Arab, Israeli nor Palestinian, but an international religious centre for all peoples (in Michel Smiely’s 666 book “the spiritual centre of [apostate] Christianity”). And then the antichrist will come waltzing in, a prince in shining armour! Promising the world peace and unprecedented prosperity, he will lay claim to divine powers and attributes and go and sit in the rebuilt temple of God in Jerusalem, showing himself that he is God (2 Thess. 2:3-4).
With Jerusalem administered under international jurisdiction (in other words, the global government of the beast), the antichristian forces will quickly mobilize to build the Third Temple of Jerusalem as a shrine for their universal/one-world religion.
That will be the time when the gentiles (in a throwback to the 70 AD-fulfilled prophecy of Yeshua in Luke 21:24) will tread on Jerusalem for forty-two months (Rev. 11:1-2).
By moving his political and ecclesiastical (religious) seat to Jerusalem, the antichrist will seek to anticipate the prophesied universal rule of Christ from Jerusalem (Isa. 65:17-19; Zech. 14:16-18), but he will ultimately be exposed for the false Messiah he is!
Christ will roar from Zion and with the sword that proceeds out of His mouth smite the antichrists and the nations that support him in the war of Armageddon (Rev. 19:11-15, 20; 16:15-19). After the resounding defeat of the antichrist and his people, the saints shall come into their inheritance: “But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever” (Dan. 7:18).
It has been forty years since Israel captured the East Jerusalem (the ‘Old City”) and reunited it with the West. During this period, Jerusalem, “the city or foundation of peace” in Hebrew, has known little peace. At the end of this 40-year milestone, the globalist forces of the antichrist are attempting to force their man-made peace on the city God chose to place His name there forever (2 Chron 6:6; 7:16). That honour is exclusively God’s, and He will manifest that when He brings again Zion: “For the LORD has chosen Zion; He hath desired it for His habitation” (Ps. 132:13).
For the believer in ‘the sure word of prophecy” (2 Pet. 1:19), events in Jerusalem, Israel and the Middle East should continue to serve as prophetic sign posts showing how close our redemption might be (Luke 21:28).
By: Enoch Ofori Jnr.