Israel is God’s time clock. The church age, as precious as it is to our Lord, is but an interlude between the sixty-ninth and seventieth weeks within the 70 weeks of years prophesied in Daniel 7:20-27. To recognize God’s chronology, we must look for signs that signal the approach of the seventieth week of years. “And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees; When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand. So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.” (Luke 21:29-32) Jesus warned us to be aware of the signs of the times (Matthew 16:2-3) so that the day of His return would not find us unaware (Luke 21:34-36).
He then gave numerous signs that would show the nearness of His return (Luke 21:25-28). He illustrated the principle of signs with the parable of a fig tree. In the parable of the fig tree, we see a symbol of the nation of Israel. We believe in the parable Jesus is telling us that when Israel comes back to life (like a tree buds in springtime) that is, becomes a nation again, to expect that His return is near. If you refer to the chart entitled “Captivity of Israel” on the next page, you will notice that God’s word shows us that Israel would be restored as a nation on May 14, 1948. Israel became a nation May 14, 1948. Why is this date so significant? Luke 21:32 talks about a generation that will not pass away before all these things be fulfilled. The generation that this scripture refers to is the generation that was born when Israel became a nation. This generation, born in 1948, will not pass away before the return of Jesus Christ. If we average the generations listed in the Bible for the 2000 years before Jesus, we can conclude that a generation is about 52 years. When we add this to May 1948, we come to somewhere quite near the year 2000. Similarly, if we calculate 6,000 years or 6 days (a day is as 1,000 years and 1,000 years as a day II Peter 3:8) from the time of the creation of Adam and Eve, we come to somewhere near the year 2000. The millennium corresponds to the 7th day in which God rested (ceased His work). So we too enter into the rest of the Lord during the millennium (1000 years) our work is finished.
We are not suggesting that 2000 is the year of the second coming of Jesus Christ. But, by these signs we know we are getting so very close to the soon coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us look at how God’s word provides us with the date May 14, 1948. In Ezekiel 4, God instructed Ezekiel to lay on his side for 430 days, representing 430 years of iniquity upon Israel. But He also promised that He will gather Israel “out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land” (Ezekiel 36:24.) True to prophecy, the people were taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, in 606 B.C. (Daniel 1.) The Babylonian Captivity lasted 70 years as prophesied in Jeremiah 25:11, ending in 536 B.C. (Ezra 1.) At the conclusion of the Bablylonian Captivity, 360 years remained of the 430 years prophesied by Ezekiel. But Israel did not repent of its sin. Indeed only 50,000 people returned at the end of the 70 years (Ezra 2:64-65.) Most of Israel choose not to return with Zerubbabel at that time. In Leviticus 26:18, God warned Israel that if Israel continued in sin after punishment, the punishment would be multiplied 7 times. When the remaining 360 years is multiplied by 7, the punishment extends to 2,520 years.
God’s prophetic year is based upon a 360 day year (see Genesis 7:11, 7:24 and 8:5; Revelation 12:6 and 12:14, as examples). 2,520 years of 360 days is 907,200 days. Based upon our solar calendar, this is 2483 years, 9 months and 21 days. Adding this period to the date of the decree of King Cyrus discussed in Ezra 1 (see above), we come to what is most probably May 14, 1948 (do not forget that there is no year 0 A.D.)
God’s Word & Jerusalem: June 7, 1967 The exact same calculation can also apply to the captivity of Jerusalem. When the people were taken into captivity in 606 B.C., the city of Jerusalem was not then destroyed. However, in 587 B.C., Jerusalem was taken and the temple destroyed (II Kings 25.) 70 years later, in 517 B.C., the temple was reconstructed (Ezra 6:15.) When we add 2483 years, 9 months and 21 days to this date, we come to what is most probably June 7, 1967. What is special about this date? June 7, 1967 is the concluding day of the “6-Day War,” in which Israel, for the first time since 517 B.C., regained Jerusalem. God’s keen interest in Israel clearly continues into this century. The Signs of Israel Following are some additional signs which point to God’s special interest in Israel and the final countdown to the Lord’s return. This list is by no means complete, but includes just some items that hopefully will excite you to get into God’s word:
I. God’s Protective Hand on Israel Shortly after Israel became a nation she was attacked. With God, a one-eyed general, and only one airplane, Israel was victorious. In 1967, in 6 days, although vastly outnumbered, Israel repelled all invaders and recaptured Jerusalem. In the Iraq war, 39 missiles were fired into Israel, but not one single Israeli was killed. Israel has prospered and grown. Folks, God’s hand is on Israel.
II. God’s Restoration
A. The Jews return home In 1882 there were approximately 25,000 Jews in Palestine. In 1900 there were 50,000. In 1922 there were 84,000. In 1931 there were 175,000. In 1948 there were 650,000. (Israel became a Nation). In 1952 there were 1,421,000. Today there are approximately 3,500,000 Jews in Palestine (Israel). This re-gathering and prospering of Israel as a distinct nation is exactly what God said He would do. In Ezekiel 34, God said: “For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out . . . And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country.” (34:11,13) In Isaiah 43, God said: “I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth; (43:6) The number of Jews has increased over 120 times in less than 100 years. In Ezekiel 36, God said: “For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land.” In Jeremiah 31, God said: “Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the coasts of the earth, and with them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and her that travaileth with child together: a great company shall return thither.” (Jeremiah 31:8) God said He would bring back His people from all countries, some of which are surprising.
B. Ethiopian Jews Return to Israel “3,000 year journey now complete, Ethiopian Jews return home. In Ethiopian history it is recorded that about 3,000 years ago the queen of Sheba visited Solomon. Scripture states that they exchanged gifts. Ethiopian history fills in the gaps, according to history they were married and produced a son named Memelik, who was educated in Jerusalem, but after a time returned home with his mother. From that day to this, the Ethiopian Jews have awaited their destiny. On the 24th and 25th of May, Operation Solomon brought them home at last.” (Excerpted from an article in News From Israel, 9/28/91.)
C. Soviet Jews Return to Israel “1 million Soviet Jews head for their new homeland.” Time, 1/14/91.
III. The Temple Prophecy is now being fulfilled as to the soon returning of Christ and the building of the temple. Although God will no longer dwell in a temple constructed by men (Acts 7:48), the temple in Jerusalem must be built again so that God’s word is fulfilled. II Thessalonians tells us that the anti-christ will sit in the temple and proclaim himself to be God (2:4). So a temple will be located in Jerusalem on the holy site (Mount Zion) as the time of the end draws near.
A. Rebuilding temple on disputed site Moslems also claim Mt. Zion as a holy site and have constructed the dome of the rock there. Scholars have long maintained that it would have to be destroyed in order to build the temple for the Jews. Recent evidence indicates that the Moslem mosque is actually located in the Court of the Gentiles which would be an open area outside the temple itself. The Jews have been preparing to rebuild the temple for years. Some of the massive foundation stones have already been quarried and at least one attempt was made to place one of these stones at the site. Also being prepared at this time are other items related to the temple and items necessary to cleanse the temple and to perform priestly duties within the temple.
B. High Priest Breastplate Currently under construction is the High Priest’s breastplate set with 12 gemstones representing the Tribes of Israel. Excerpted from an article by the Associated Press, by Mary Sedor. Please Read Exodus chapters 28-30 about the breastplate and other garments of the High Priest.
C. Tools for the temple Instruments of worship and sacrifice being displayed. Excerpted from an article in Prophecy in the News, 9/89.
D. Red Heifer Ashes from red heifer needed to cleanse temple. Excerpted from an article in News in Israel, 3/90. Please read Numbers 19:1-6.
E. Blue Dye Israel welcomes back tekhelet snails. This snail is noted for its blue coloring and is necessary to mark certain religious items. This snail once thought to be extinct is now producing in abundance along the shores of Israel. Prophecy in News, 2/91.
F. Did the ark return with the Ethiopian Jews? There is strong historical evidence that the ark has been in Ethiopia for the past 3,000 years.
The Encyclopedia Britannica records that Aksum, an ancient city in Tigre, Abysinia (modern Ethiopia), contains the ancient church where, according to tradition, the Tobot or Ark of the Covenant, brought from Jerusalem by the son of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, was deposited and is still supposed to rest. Also Emperor Hailie Selassie alluded to this. Mussolini aimed to take the Ark in 1936 when he invaded Ethiopia (The Biblical Evangelist, 8/1/91.) Israel is God’s time clock. We need to heed the warning of our Lord to watch (Israel and other signs) and to pray that we be “accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man” (Luke 21:36.) Let us not be found in disobedience to His command. Remember the words of Jesus, when He said: “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” (Luke 21:28)