Mar 11, 2006
The Middle East Crisis and Jerusalem
The Middle East Crisis and Jerusalem
"Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the world are gathered against it." Zechariah 12:2,3 - Hebrew prophet of the Holy Bible.
"For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem; the city shall be taken, the houses rifled, and the women ravished. Half of the city shall go into captivity." (Zechariah 14:2).
Many people today are concerned about the crisis in the Middle East. In recent times there have been serious outbreaks of violence between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians who view the Israelis as an occupying power in their true homeland. There is the very real possibility of other Arab nations being dragged into the conflict, provoking a regional war. Historically and in very recent times also, diplomats have come in from the outside seeking to mediate the issues, and find a compromise upon which a lasting peace can be built. Yet peace seems elusive for now, as there are many on both sides of the camp who want war. Hatred and resentment has found a deep root in this part of the world. When this happens, it is very hard to get people to accept one another. Instead, people get to the point where they would be glad to die or be seriously hurt if only they might hurt their enemies in the process.
What this Conflict is About
This conflict is about many things. It is only partially about which nation really owns the land. That issue is complex enough, but there are even greater issues at stake. One of the major issues has to do with which religious view of history will triumph. There is a major conflict brewing between Islam and the Judaeo-Christian view of Israel. Islam teaches that the Jews are the enemies of true religion and that Islam will triumph over them by force. Also, based on an Islamic tradition that says that Mohammed ascended to heaven from Jerusalem, the muslims see the Temple Mount area where muslims have established two mosques as extremely holy.
Orthodox Judaism however would see the Jews as God's chosen people which will be ultimately protected by Almighty God as long as they are faithful to the Law and the traditions of Judaism. Many of them hope for the eventual re-eastablishment of the Jewish Temple on its old site where the Mosques now stand - perhaps under the leadership of the Messiah who they see as yet to come.
Secular Jews see the State of Israel as an important part of their identity as Jews - something regained at heavy cost, and something to be defended at heavy cost if need be. After all, this world has over the centuries has many times been brutal to Jewish people. Many times bitter pogroms resulted in them being driven from place to place by those who hated them. Besides that, the spectre of the Nazi Holocaust is still with them. The Jewish military forces and secret service are not softies. When shot at, they shoot to kill. They are not going to take the attacks against them lying down.
In addition to this, Messianic Jews and most Christians believe that the recreation of the State of Israel in 1948 was actually the fulfilment of biblical prophecies, and that God has a special place for Israel and Jerusalem in the end time events leading up to the return of Jesus Christ. There are many biblical passages which can be found in support of this, and many other interesting passages which seem to speak of events yet to come which relate to this whole crisis.
All these groups have a passionate stake therefore in Israel's existence or otherwise as a State, and the future of Jerusalem, especially the Temple Mount area. The viewpoints here are fundamentally irreconcilable. The Pope's suggestion to make Jerusalem a city with a special international status - controlled neither by the Israelis nor by the Palestinians seems to make sense, but it is unlikely to please either group. Whether the United Nations comes to claim jurisdiction over Jerusalem in the near future or not, we can be sure that this option will be pushed forward in one form or other for some time to come. And if it ever happens that Jeruslam is handed over to the U.N., it could fit in very well with some of the Bible's predictions concerning the emergence of the Antichrist.