Trusting God requires us not placing limits on what that trust covers. We are not allowed to decide what God can do or will do, how He will do it or when. We can’t restrict Him only to involvement in certain aspects of our lives and not others. He is Lord over all, without hindrance.
Isa 46:9-11 Remember the former things long past, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, 'My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure'… Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it.
That being the case, whatever happens between now and Jesus’ return is covered under things for which God has planned and we must trust Him. Nothing is going to happen that surprises Him or catches Him unprepared.
So, we can say along with David: Ps 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.
The upheaval associated with the End Times is completely within the scope of God being God and Him working out the plans He has for us. We don’t need to be afraid. He has ultimate control. What we need to do is learn now to trust Him in small details so we will be more comfortable trusting Him with things much greater as He closes out this present age.
Last week we discovered the Jewish expression Olam Hazeh – the present age. It’s the time frame from when Adam was created until the Messiah comes and brings in the final judgment. They calculate it using the six days of creation from Genesis 1, each day representing a thousand years. And by their calendar this is the year 5781.
We did the math. From Adam to Noah was 1656 years and from Noah to Abraham was 390 which is 2046 years. From Abraham to David is approximately 1000 years, David to Jesus another 1000 years. Then, from Jesus to now is around 2000 years. The total being almost 6000 years.
Is that important? Perhaps. It brings the Jewish understanding of God’s intentions in line with what many Christians believe today. That Jesus or to the Jewish mind, the Messiah, is coming soon. For us it is the Second Coming. For religious Jews it’s the First. Both believing that coming will be followed by a thousand years of peace.
Remember that the majority of Israel is secular and has no understanding or anticipation of the coming of a Messiah. Their concept of peace is only what can be created in agreements with other nations. But Scripture says any peace they work out will be short-lived. Ultimate peace will only come after Jesus returns.
It is ironic, however, that with the upheaval predicted in Scripture, the desire for Peace would still play a vital role in the End Times.
In a messianic section of Isaiah, Isaiah wrote: Isa 55:11-3 So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. For you will go out with joy and be led forth with peace; the mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Instead of the thorn bush the cypress will come up, and instead of the nettle the myrtle will come up, and it will be a memorial to the LORD, for an everlasting sign which will not be cut off."
It is a promise of peace to come, but in what realm? The current earthly realm when Isaiah wrote was in turmoil. The Assyrians were coming to take Israel captive. And since then, lasting peace has yet to come, so it must be after the earthly realm is over.
Peace has always been a fragile hope for the Jews because it’s been based on the temporary absence of conflict. Historically, peace came after the resolution of war. Yet, within that fragile hope rests the expectation of a day when their Messiah will remove all their enemies and give them lasting peace.
And yet, peace agreements are still sought with the very peoples who are bent on destroying Israel. It’s the old saying: keep your friends close and your enemies closer.
Until this week, Israel had had agreements for diplomatic relations with only two Arab countries, Egypt and Jordan, neither of which lasted. On Tuesday a strategic agreement was signed with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, two Arab countries on the outer edge of the Saudi Peninsula. Since the previous agreements have been violated and discarded, why is this one different?
It’s called the Abraham Accord Peace Agreement. “It is designed to enhance the cause of peace, stability and prosperity in relationship between Israel and eventually the Middle East as a whole. The parties undertake to foster mutual understanding, respect, co-existence and a culture of peace between their societies in the spirit of their common ancestor, Abraham, and the new era of peace and friendly relations ushered in by this treaty.”
By choosing the name Abraham, the agreement acknowledges that the real problem in the Middle East is a Biblical one. There has always been and always will be discord between Israel and the Arab world. Lasting peace is impossible because discord is a family tradition based on the problem between two brothers. I doubt the Arabs and Jews know this today, much like the Hatfield’s and McCoy’s fighting for years with most of them not knowing why.
Prime Minister Netanyahu pointed out how these historic accords will bless the Middle East. “Because this peace will eventually expand to include other Arab states, and ultimately it can end the Arab–Israeli conflict once and for all.” What is the Arab-Israeli conflict?
Gen 16:1-5 Now Sarai, Abram's wife had borne him no children, and she had an Egyptian maid whose name was Hagar. So Sarai said to Abram, "Now behold, the LORD has prevented me from bearing children. Please go in to my maid; perhaps I will obtain children through her." And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. After Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Abram's wife Sarai took Hagar the Egyptian, her maid, and gave her to her husband Abram as his wife. He went in to Hagar, and she conceived; and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her sight. And Sarai said to Abram, "May the wrong done me be upon you. I gave my maid into your arms, but when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her sight. May the LORD judge between you and me."
Gen 21:8-13 The child grew and was weaned, and Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. Now Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, mocking. Therefore she said to Abraham, "Drive out this maid and her son, for the son of this maid shall not be an heir with my son Isaac." The matter distressed Abraham greatly because of his son. But God said to Abraham, "Do not be distressed because of the lad and your maid; whatever Sarah tells you, listen to her, for through Isaac your descendants shall be named. And of the son of the maid I will make a nation also, because he is your descendant."
Gen 25:16-18 These are the sons of Ishmael and these are their names, by their villages, and by their camps; twelve princes according to their tribes. These are the years of the life of Ishmael, one hundred and thirty-seven years; and he breathed his last and died, and was gathered to his people. They settled from Havilah to Shur which is east of Egypt as one goes toward Assyria; he settled in defiance of all his relatives.
From there two sons take two different roads away from their common ancestry to Abraham. One following a path of divine purpose, the other wandering down the path of rejection.
Gen 21:9-11 Now Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, mocking. Therefore she said to Abraham, "Drive out this maid and her son, for the son of this maid shall not be an heir with my son Isaac." The matter distressed Abraham greatly because of his son.
The bitterness of rejection and the stigma associated with being driven away from his father and their home created animosity that has festered ever since. Though the original reason no longer matters, the sentiment of hatred against the other son of Abraham continues by the descendants of Ishmael. Watching the other son prosper has created bitter jealousy in the Arabs.
Now, the ultimate question is, should Israel expect lasting peace with the Arabs within this present world? The prophecies say no (short term maybe but not lasting peace) and they reaffirm that genuine peace will only come after Jesus returns.
The Arab-Israeli Conflict begins with the outer conflict, maintained by mob hysteria aimed at a common enemy, from nations raised to hate Israel. And then there is inner conflict – conflict of being torn between staying with the traditional hatred or doing what’s best for the nation.
Treaties may lessen and even stop outer conflict but unless the inner conflict comes into play, something will knock the lid off of that agreement and turmoil will return.
When we were in Israel a couple of years ago, our Israeli guide pointed to signs on a fence. He said in Hebrew it says mine field, caution, no admittance, keep out. In Arabic it said, Picnic area. The Jews have hated the Arabs as much as the Arabs have hated the Jews. Agreements don’t stop hatred, only hold it in check.
Making an agreement is the only hope for even temporary peace though neither side wants to make any concessions. What’s unique in this agreement, there are no concessions on the table, only cooperation. That cooperation will hold, until one side fails to comply with the words of the agreement.
Ps 12:2 They speak falsehood to one another; with flattering lips and with a double heart they speak.
It’s like we did as kids, make a promise with our fingers crossed behind our back.
Alliances shift the balance of power. And places peace on a thin wire of cooperation.
So how does the coming of Jesus factor in with this or any agreement Israel makes with other nations?
Paul said: 1Thess 5:2-3 For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. While they are saying, "Peace and safety!" then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape.
Any time a peace treaty is established with Israel it should raise our antennae.
Matt 24:6-11 You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs. Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many.
When Jesus spoke these words, they were still under the Old Covenant. The New doesn’t begin until His death. He’s talking about the Jews, telling them of the turmoil to come and warning them about false prophets.
Jeremiah spoke of false prophets predicting a false outcome. Jer 8:11 They heal the brokenness of the daughter of My people superficially, Saying, 'Peace, peace,' But there is no peace.
The scope of this peace for the Middle East is very limited. Only three nations signed the accord so far. Trump is currently seeking to align other Arab nations also to sign. But now only Israel, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have agreed to normalize relations, lift travel restrictions, and do business together. However, on the same day the peace deal was signed, rockets were fired on Israel. Palestinian leaders called the agreements a “stab in the back.” Hamas condemned the accords as “not worth the paper they were written on.” The president of the Palestinian Authority has threatened that “millions of fighters” would attack Jerusalem and Israeli settlements “shall all be destroyed.”
Why can’t Israel just be left alone and everyone else just tend to their own business? It’s not in their DNA to do so.
The scorpion and the frog – it’s just my nature.
Not only is conflict in the nature of both the Arabs and the Israelis, lasting peace is not in God’s plan for how He will bring about the end. That will require wrath being poured out, a final battle, the earth and heavens destroyed and a new earth and new heavens created. But none of that will happen until after Jesus returns.
How should all of this affect us?
Luke 21:25-28 There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see THE SON OF MAN COMING IN A CLOUD with power and great glory. But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near."
All we see should raise our eyes to Heaven. In fact, any alliance or any rise in conflict in the Middle East should raise our eyes to Heaven. Though conflict discourages us and makes us look at the problems, God’ says, let what you see cause you to look up instead.
God’s will use this:
- To get our attention
- To make us seek Him.
- To remove things that distract us.
- To sharpen our focus
- To enlarge our faith to trust Him.
Crisis typically turns our attention to God.
Typically, we read it as: Jer 29:11 ‘For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.
From a literal translation it reads: I know what I weave together, to give you an expected end, after I have tied all the loose strands together.
Tapestry – chaos on one side. Beauty and purpose on the other that won’t make sense until after it’s done.
- Be glad for Israel anytime they negotiate peace with an Arab country.
- Any peace is better than ongoing hostility.
- But realize whatever peace is achieved is temporary and takes us one step closer to the End.
- So, look up. The Climax of our redemption is coming soon.