JERUSALEM AND ROME … Friends or Foes?

Other than the 20th century Holocaust during World War II, secular historians and Biblical scholars agree that the darkest hour of Israel’s history took place in 70 AD, culminating with the destruction of the Jewish temple on the 9th of Av (Hebrew month equivalent to the Roman calendar month of August).

Even the weakest student of history has probably heard of this disaster in which the legions of Roman generals Vespasian and his son Titus invaded Israel, conquered Jerusalem, and destroyed the Temple. In fact, the prophet Daniel predicted this would happen some 650 years earlier. Not only was the holiest site of Judaism dismantled and put to the torch, but a massive flood followed, a flood of exiled dispersion for the Jewish people to many nations of the earth; one that would last until 1948. Several past articles in our Eye of Prophecy blog site have mentioned this catastrophic event, with varying points of reference and purpose for citing this ancient, but still relevant milestone of Jewish history.

I bring it up yet again because of another significant event that occurred exactly three months ago. What is it that happened to affirm my premise that the Roman conquest of Israel in the first century continues to influence contemporary events of today’s world?

During the eight-day celebration of Hanukkah, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lit the candles for the 5th night of Hanukkah (Sunday, December 1, 2013). Unusual for the Prime Minister to light Hanukkah candles? Perhaps not. Unless that is: He lit them at the Great Synagogue in Rome! And, for good measure, the Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta attended the solemn event! There’s more: The following day, Netanyahu travelled to the Vatican where he met with Pope Francis; additional pleasantries were exchanged between these two leaders!

What is so special about two heads of state (make that three heads of state, as the Pope is head of the Vatican, which is recognized as a sovereign state within a state) meeting in such a fashion, you might ask? What the Romans did to Israel happened so long ago. What, then, is so strange about a 21st century meeting between the Prime Ministers of Italy and Israel?

In answer to these questions: The sheer magnitude of Rome’s brutal first century conquest resulted in Israel ceasing to exist as a nation. Not only did the Romans slaughter hundreds of thousands of Jews, but they drove the vast majority of survivors out of Israel, where they would live under the heel of Gentile nations for nearly 1900 years. To drive this dagger of national death even deeper into the heart of Israel, a subsequent Roman emperor changed the name of Israel to Palestine, a derivative and derogatory name that resembled Philistia, Israel’s ancient enemy (Philistines).

During the Diaspora, the Jews would be further oppressed, suppressed, persecuted, deprived, and killed en mass. Does anyone remember the Crusades in which tens of thousands of Jews were murdered by so-called Christian knights and defenders of the Holy Land? Or the Spanish Inquisition with its gruesome torture and killing of Jews that refused to convert to the universal church? Or the pogroms of Russia and parts of Europe that sought to dispossess the Jews of their liberty, property, livelihood, and life itself. All leading to the most horrible of all: The Final Solution to the “Jewish problem” instigated by a demoniacal depraved Adolf Hitler and the equally degenerate thugs of the Third Reich. And don’t forget that Italy (Rome) was an ally of Germany during World War II. Although Italy didn’t directly participate in the evil genocide that took place in the concentration camps of Germany and Poland, Mussolini and many Italian citizens turned a deaf ear and blind eye to what was happening. And some actually participated in the round-up and internment of Jews throughout Italy.

So you see: It’s not just an ancient event that contemporary heads of state could otherwise overlook … letting bygones be bygones. Rather, it was a diabolical effort initiated by the ancient Roman Empire and continued by the Holy Roman Empire to rid the earth of God’s chosen people and to prevent them from their God ordained destiny to live and thrive in Israel. To further confirm my premise of relevancy between 1st and 21st century Rome and Jerusalem, let’s listen to the words of Prime Minister Netanyahu during his meeting with Italy’s Prime Minister Letta.

“There is a special relationship between Jerusalem and Rome. No two other cities have such a deep meaning in the history of our people and our shared culture. On this evening, on Hanukkah in particular, this trip to Rome is significant. Here, the Arch of Titus is engraved with the image of a menorah that was looted from the Temple and arrived in a victory parade in Rome. Two thousand years have passed since the destruction of the Temple. The State of Israel is strong and vibrant. And its symbol is the same exact menorah engraved on the Arch of Titus. The (seven-branched) menorah and the Hanukkah (the eight-branched menorah lit on Hanukkah) embody the great spirit that beats within our people.”

Regarding the modern-day relationship between Israel and Italy, Prime Minister Netanyahu said to Prime Minister Letta, “Your commitment to the welfare and security of Israel is clear.” Letta responded by saying that the Jewish community in Italy is Italy’s “moral compass.”

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(Photo depicts Prime Ministers Letta and Netanyahu)

Jerusalem & Berlin (another unlikely alliance)

Just a few days ago, Prime Minister Netanyahu welcomed Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, one of several meetings conducted between the two leaders in the recent past. Said, Ms. Merkel: (there is), “a very strong friendship, which ties our two countries together and a friendship that we want to continue to develop further.” She further affirmed her recognition of Israel as a sovereign Jewish State, to reinforce the diplomatic relations between Germany and Israel that began fifty years ago.

According to Prime Minister Netanyahu there existed between the two countries a, “unique bond forged of tragedy and hope.” He further stated: “Chancellor Merkel is a friend of Israel.” He thanked her for taking a stance against boycotts that threaten Israel. In fact, Israel will purchase a multi-million defense system from Germany to guard the natural gas rigs along the Israeli coastline. And Germans continue to buy Israeli goods.

What makes these recent Israeli meetings with Italy and Germany so historically relevant and prophetically pertinent in today’s world? How is it that these two nations, that have caused Israel more grief and misery than virtually all other nations combined, have extended olive branches to the Jews, whom they endeavored to utterly destroy in the first century (Rome) and the 20th century (Berlin)? Let’s examine another Old Testament prophecy about Israel to see the association. And in doing so, we again marvel at the dozens of prophecies that are unfolding in our generation, before our very eyes.

(That’s what Eye of Prophecy is all about. To provide a clear witness for Jesus, which is the theme of the blog site. But also to link historical dots of incidents long past, with the current events of today’s world in a way that many people might not otherwise connect).

Here’s what God promises to/for Israel: “And I will deal severely with all who have oppressed you. I will save the weak and helpless ones; I will bring together those who were chased away. I will give glory and fame to my former exiles, wherever they have been mocked and shamed. On that day I will gather you together and bring you home again. I will give you a good name, a name of distinction, among all the nations of the earth, as I restore your fortunes before their very eyes. I, the Lord, have spoken” (Zephaniah 3: 19-20, italics for emphasis).

Reasons for Ancient & Modern Enemies to Befriend Modern-Day Israel

From these last two verses of the book of Zephaniah and from several other similar passages in the Old Testament, we can find two basic reasons why Italy and Germany have gone out of their way to support Israel, despite the politically correct pressure from the majority of countries in the United Nations, including all Muslim nations, to alienate and disenfranchise the state of Israel.

(1) Out of Guilt and Remorse: This has been clearly evident for several decades, but no more so than the past couple of years. For example, President Merkel of Germany has promised a monthly stipend for an estimated 20,000 Holocaust survivors, some $275.00 per month. The last three Popes have essentially apologized for the Roman Catholic Church’s persecution of Jews taking place over centuries of time. Both countries have criticized the BDS movement against Israel, and have pledged support for the existence and welfare of the State of Israel. All this because of the horrendous behavior toward the Jews at the hands of past (ancient and recent) Italian and German dictators/governments.

And, I’m sure both Italy and Germany have made a remorseful connection between past treatment of the Jews and the subsequent demise of their respective empires, both of which went down in flames, never to rise again. Meaning the once mighty indestructible Roman Empire and the more recent imperishable, everlasting Third Reich (one that would last a thousand years!) In fact, it lasted for only twelve years! Whether their leaders understood this correlation based on Biblical principles and precedents that God would bless those who support Israel and curse those who would dare to harm her, is essentially irrelevant. The fact is: God’s Word is true, it will always come to pass no matter what anyone thinks of it. If, however, any of Germany’s and Italy’s leaders made this connection, so much the better for them. Perhaps they will think twice about causing future harm to God’s people. Sadly, however, they won’t, as we soon shall see.

(2) Out of Respect: This is more than just token esteem or appreciation or admiration for a people who have risen from the ashes of utter defeat to the beauty of a vibrant and strong nation, using Netanyahu’s words—although the rebirth of Israel as a nation and the restoration of the Jews as the people of that nation is, in fact, a source of wonder to most of the civilized world, especially the European Union. Rather, this is the kind of respect that is generated by a country that is a formidable rival to any nation on the face of the earth. No matter that the entire population of Israel is less than many major cities of the earth; Israel boasts an economy and a military that (for its size) is the envy of the contemporary world.

Today’s Israel could easily hold her own against either Germany or Italy or both. But she won’t have to, at least not yet. Because, for now, both of these nations have nothing but the utmost respect for Israel’s accomplishments as well as the ability to defend herself through the army, navy, and air force of Israeli Defense Force that boasts state of the art technology and equipment, as well as some of the bravest and finest soldiers any nation could ever want. Indeed, modern Israel bears a name and reputation of distinction, just as the prophet Zephaniah predicted it would.

Another Reason for Solidarity between Israel and Germany/Italy

There’s another reason, one that will ensure Israel’s safety and prominence in the world until their final confrontation with the Gog/Magog coalition of nations described in Ezekiel 38 & 39; then the ruthless assault by the Antichrist and his alliance, during the first half and second half of the Great Tribulation, respectively. This is the time designated as Jacob’s Trouble, the time that will precede and usher in the glorious appearance of Israel’s Messiah to save the Jews from extinction.

This third reason is a foregone conclusion that must come to pass. Why? Because, God says it will happen. It will be in the form of a long overdue peace agreement that continues to elude the Middle East in spite of relentless political efforts by the United States and the European Union to solve the unsolvable dilemma of a Palestinian State alongside of the State of Israel. The only such treaty specified in Scripture is found in the book of Daniel, and it will be accomplished by none other than the Antichrist. Which, of course, makes it a deceitfully false treaty.

“The ruler will make a treaty with the people for a period of one set of sevens, but after half this time, he will put an end to the sacrifices and offerings. And as a climax to all his terrible deeds, he will set up a sacrilegious object that causes desecration, until the fate decreed for this ruler is finally poured out on him” (Daniel 9:27).

The harshest or severest segment of the Great Tribulation takes place during the last half (3 ½ years) of this treaty, but the important link to make for purpose of this article is that the ruler (Antichrist) will somehow orchestrate a seven-year treaty with Israel … meaning between Israel and her enemies … the Arab world. And this deal could very well include the construction of the Third Temple on Temple Mount alongside of or even in place of the Dome of the Rock. How will that be possible? Today, as we speak, it’s not possible; not without an all-out attack by virtually every Muslim nation against Israel including non-Muslim nations aligned with these Arab countries. In short, it would mean World War III, because western nations, including America could not stand by while Israel is mercilessly attacked.

But until the Rapture takes place, followed by the stunning return of the man of lawlessness from the Abyss and his seven-year pact with Israel and the Arab nations, we are witnessing God’s sovereignty in the preparation of certain powerful nation’s remarkable reversal of their historical animosity toward Israel. After the Rapture (which could happen any day), these nations and others will pledge their allegiance to the Antichrist; then follow his lead when he breaks the treaty with Israel at the half-way point.

For the first time in history, we see two very prominent European Nations—Germany and Italy—ostensibly courting Israel as an economic and political partner. Though there are many dissidents within both countries as well as the EU in general that despise Israel (not the least of which are the neo-Nazis), the governments of these two nations are currently empathetic toward Israel. So, too, has France jumped on the bandwagon to support Israel as evidenced by recent visits between France and Israel’s leaders. As Germany, France, and Italy go, so goes the European Union.

Summary

What does all this mean? It means that if the Rapture occurred today, or next year, or five years from now, the beast of Revelation (Antichrist) will have a much easier task of reaching a treaty with Israel than at any other time in history. And, for those who have read my book, Out of the Abyss… can the number of the beast be solved, 666; or for those who have read the Eye of Prophecy articles under the category of Antichrist, you know about the Biblical and historical evidence that documents the identity of the Antichrist.

In next week’s article, we’re going to examine the wicked ruler of Daniel Chapter 9 in more detail. We’re going to once again see how Daniel Chapter 9 supports the premise that Nero is the ruler who ordered the conquest of Israel in 66 AD, which resulted in the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. This same man will reappear from the abyss as the beast of Revelation 13 & 17, as the little horn of Daniel 7, and as the ruler in Daniel 9 who successfully arranges a seven-year treaty with Israel. And this will be, in large part, possible because at least some of the ten kings or regional heads who give him their allegiance will undoubtedly be from the European Union.

Right now as we speak, I firmly believe that a “risen” Nero would have no problem in convincing a people (Jews) who were destroyed and exiled by Nero’s generals that he means them no harm, that he has only their best interest at heart. After all, isn’t that what the current leaders of Germany and Italy and France are telling (selling) Israel? It’s more than just an impression or a theory. It’s what is actually happening in today’s world between Israel and some prominent leaders of Europe. Even our United States President has promised total support of Israel, despite his misunderstanding of Jewish and Arab history that compels him to harshly criticize new Jewish settlements and Israeli reluctance to give up east Jerusalem to exclusive Arab control.

Concerning the prominent influence and role of the Antichrist when he reappears, how could Israel (or any nation) argue with a Roman Emperor who has returned from the dead!? Plus, the condition of a world that has just experienced the loss of hundreds of millions of people will be ripe for conciliation, healing, direction, and peace. Stay tuned next week while we revisit the first century fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy, more specifically the inseparable link between the armies who destroyed the Temple and the supreme commander of those armies.

Things to Ponder
– One previous Eye of Prophecy article dealt with the subject of BDS against Israel by many nations of the world. According to Genesis 12:3, in the context of BDS, a nation better think twice about hurting Israel. The last thing an individual or a nation wants is to be boycotted, divested, and sanctioned by God, himself. We only need to take a historical look at those nations who have done Israel great harm, to see how they imploded from within and/or were demolished from without. We have already seen what happened to the eternal Roman Empire and the immortal Third Reich. Those empires are gone forever. Israel is back and here to stay forever!
– Conversely, Genesis 12:3 is equally clear that God blesses those who favor Israel. For that reason alone I’m confident that The Lord has, for one example, shown some favor on the nation of Brazil. Jews have lived and thrived in Brazil for several centuries and currently the 120,000+ Jews in Brazil constitute the 9th largest Jewish community of all the 244 nations on earth. It’s estimated that around 17 million Brazilians have Sephardic Jewish ancestry. Moreover, Brazil strictly condemns Anti-Semitism, to the extent that there are Anti-Semitic laws in place, with penalties for violation of those laws.
– Good for Brazil!!