PRINCE OF PEACE
I had hoped and prayed that last’s week article, Bring Back Our Boys, would end happily, with the safe return of three Jewish boys kidnapped by the terrorist group, Hamas. Sadly, that is not to be. Just this past Monday, June 30th, the bodies of Eyal Yifrach, Naftali Frenkel, and Gilad Shaar were found by the Israeli Defense Force buried in a pit in a small town near Hebron, Israel. Because of the condition of their corpses, it was clear that they had been killed shortly after they were abducted on June 12. I know all we who cherish life and support Israel can say with righteous anger and deep sorrow, “This is wrong. This is so wrong.”
They were found eighteen days after they were unjustly abducted and ruthlessly murdered. The number eighteen bears great significance with the Jews: It is the number that represents life. As expressed by the indomitable Jewish spirit, life will go on despite horrible tragedies and atrocities inflicted on the Jews for centuries; and will continue until the Prince of Peace returns and puts a stop to the brutal wickedness that has plagued the world for time immemorial, but especially in the last one hundred years, and particularly to the Jews.
The triumph of life over death will be majestically displayed at the Rapture, with the resurrection of the dead in Christ (those who have been redeemed by believing and receiving Jesus); then throughout out all eternity by those of us who have been given the free gift of everlasting life by our Great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Even amidst the recent unspeakable tragedy in Israel, life both literally and symbolically rules over death with the extraordinary arrival of three babies. Just this week a Jewish woman gave birth to triplet boys, and she named them after the three Israeli teens! What a remarkable timely event to help with the healing of three families whose sons were violently taken from them, and the recovery of an entire nation who lost three of their own boys. The fact is: The way this atrocity occurred, the timing of it (soon after the unlikely merger of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority), and the arrogance of those who approved of this horrific crime has galvanized Israel into a near unprecedented backlash of solidarity so poignantly expressed in the massive search and rescue operation called: Brother’s Keeper.
And as said in last week’s Eye of Prophecy article, often Israelis will extend aid to their enemies even during times of war and attacks on innocent civilians. During the very time that the three boys were being abducted and murdered shortly thereafter, the wife of Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas, was undergoing surgery in a Tel Aviv hospital! Unimaginable! The height of irony! Yet, it was the full expression of the heart and soul of Israel … in stark contrast to the appalling spirit of hate harbored and expressed by those who would seek to destroy them.
Hundreds of thousands of Israelis, both observant (religious) and secular came from all over Israel—young and old—to share in the grief of the boy’s families and to pay their respect as the boys were laid to rest, side by side, in the Modi’in cemetery. Their bodies were wrapped in Star of David Israeli flags. As journalist Atara Beck in an article for United for Israel web posting observed, “Indeed, it felt like one large family mourning for their beloved boys.”
Words of Consolation
Former Israeli President Shimon Peres stated, “We are an ancient people, united and deeply rooted. Our story is full of tears but the soul maintains the Torah. These three boys exposed the depth of our people and the heights it can reach. A nation with a soul that years. A nation which demonstrates resilience like no other. A nation that even its years of exile never lost its way.
“All of Israel bows its head today. For 18 days we hoped and prayed with one voice that we would find the boys safe and well. With this bitter news, all of Israel mourns their deaths … and we will ensure that murderous terrorism of this sort will not dare to rear its head again.”
Peres concluded: “Gilad, Naftali, Eyal … Wonderful boys, sons of the whole nation. Rest in peace. We will bow our heads but our spirit will not break.”
Current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the boy’s families: “The nation understood immediately the depth of the roots and the strength of spirit you possess. The whole nation stood together and received a reminder—who are we? Why are we here? The entire nation cries and embraces you.”
The Prime Minister also said: “In the last 18 days the figures of Eyal, Gilad and Naftali were carved on our hearts. We were charmed by the magic of their smile, their kindness, their joy of youth. Today became a day of national mourning. The moral chasm that separates us from our enemies is deep and wide. They revere death and we life. They revere cruelty and we, pity. This is the secret of our strength, it is also the base of our unification.”
Earlier, Benjamin Netanyahu had these words to say during an emergency meeting with his Security Cabinet: “They were abducted and murdered in cold blood by human animals.” He then quoted Hebrew poet Haim Nahman Blalik, “Vengeance for the blood of a small child, Satan has not yet created.” Followed by Benjamin’s take on this saying, “Neither has vengeance for the blood of three pure youths, who were on their way home to meet their parents, who will not see them anymore. Hamas is responsible—and Hamas will pay. May the memories of the three boys be blessed.” The Prime Minister was expressing Israel’s sovereign and moral right to dispense justice to those responsible.
Economy Minister Naftali Bennett responded to the news that the bodies had been found: “The murder of children is unforgivable. Our hearts are with the families right now. Now is the time for actions: not talk.”
Finance Minister Yair Lapid said: “To bury a child is an unnatural act. Parents are not meant to march at their children’s funerals. It is supposed to be the other way around.”
There are so many quotes that could be shared in this article, but there simply isn’t time/space. Thus, just one more will be offered. It comes through a joint statement from Robert Sugarman, chairman, and Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations: “…It is time that the world stand in unity against those who advocate and execute, as well as justify, the murder of innocent young people who are brutally butchered in Israel or anywhere. It cannot be met by indifference or pro-forma expressions of sympathy. For too long the threats against Israel, including missiles and terrorism, have elicited limited responses, with the roles of victims and perpetrators inverted. It must stop.”
What to Make of This Tragedy … Is it just another blip in the grid of Middle East turmoil?
Are you beginning to see a pattern here? Just what the magnitude of Israel’s military response will be to this horrendous crime is yet to be seen. However, in addition to my heartfelt dismay and even despondency over these senseless deaths, my head is telling me that Israel may have reached a point in which their tolerance for this or any kind of terrorism has been irreversibly breached. It is a line not crossed since Egypt and Syria attacked the Jews without warning on Israel’s most holy day … Yom Kippur in 1973.
In some ways this latest incident is not that much different from any senseless random murder anywhere in the world. Yet, it is so different that the concerted reaction of Israelis resembles in many ways how Israel would respond to a full-blown military assault against the entire nation. I believe Israel may have reached the point of no return. No longer will the Jews allow these acts of barbarity to continue, without the severest of retaliation against those who would seek to destroy Israel; whether by isolated kidnappings and killings of Israelis or a vast military strike against Israel. There could be retribution that will not stop at merely capturing or killing the men directly responsible, which would be the normal reply. There could very well be a strike at Hamas’ jugular or at least a severe wound to the violent head of this terrorist cell; one that will silence terrorism for years to come, or one that could erupt into a full-scale conflict in the Middle East.
Already, many in Israel, including members of the Knesset, are calling for massive strikes on Hamas, some even suggesting that Hamas and all terrorist organizations in Israel be dealt a death-blow. The repercussions of which would be far beyond anyone’s capability to predict or even control. Combined with the regional conflicts currently underway in Syria, Iraq, and the powder-keg, tinder-box condition of so many other Middle East countries, we could be on the brink of the apocalyptic last days spoken of by the prophets and graphically depicted in the books of Daniel and Revelation.
The end-time prophecies clearly portrayed in Scripture are irreversible, once they begin. And they were propelled into motion the moment of Israel’s rebirth as a nation on May 14, 1948. Much has been said about these prophecies in several Eye of Prophecy articles, and, of course, by several other Bible students of prophecy. Daily events all over the world is—particularly in the Middle East—that have prophetic repercussions are rapidly increasing in intensity and number to the point where something has to give. It is equivalent to the fury of an avalanche on Mt. Everest.
Thus, not to take away from the need to mourn for a while longer with Israel, and to regenerate and renew our hope for our future (those of us who belong to Messiah), and for Israel’s future, the remainder of this article will be devoted to Scripture itself, particularly those passages that tell us about the ONLY PERSON who can possibly heal the hardened condition of the human heart and, thereby, bring real peace to this earth. He is: THE PRINCE OF PEACE. (Isaiah 9:6).
Although these are just a handful of the hundreds of magnificent promises found throughout the Bible, they nevertheless represent the persistent undeniable hope of Christians (born-again Jews and Gentiles) and Jews all over the world.
Most Messianic prophecies apply exclusively to Israel and the Jews, but some are blessings that extend to those Gentiles who have been redeemed by the atoning sacrifice of Messiah Jesus on the Cross. Those who were, “branches from a wild olive tree, that have been grafted in” (to the promises made to and destiny of Israel, Romans 11:17).
What Does Scripture Say?
Let’s begin with one of those sweeping promises as proclaimed by the prophet Jeremiah: “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me” (Jeremiah 29: 11-13). A promise like this lifts us above the tough day-to-day burdens of life and the periodic tragedies of death, especially the untimely gut-wrenching loss of our children. If we seek the Lord sincerely with our whole heart, he will reach back to us. We will find him because he promised that we would. He is a faithful God … always has been, always will be.
In the very next chapter of Jeremiah we find a prophecy that applies only to Israel, one that will be completed upon the glorious appearing of Jesus the Messiah at the end of the tribulation period, which commences soon after the Rapture. Note the reference to the “time of Jacob’s trouble” in the first two sentences of the following passage, which is how some translations render it. The reference to, “in all history there has never been” refers to the final mass persecution of the Jews, which was not the Holocaust, as horrible as that was. Rather, it will take place during the 3 ½ years of the Great Tribulation, as documented in Daniel and Revelation and Zechariah.
“In all history there has never been such a time of terror. It will be a time of trouble for my people Israel. Yet in the end they will be saved! ‘For in that day,’ says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, ‘I will break the yoke from their necks and snap their chains. Foreigners will no longer be their masters. For my people will serve the Lord their God and their king descended from David—the king I will raise up for them. So do not be afraid, Jacob, my servant; do not be dismayed, Israel,’ says the Lord. ‘For I will bring you home again from distant lands, and your children will return from their exile. Israel will return to a life of peace and quiet, and no one will terrorize them’” (Jeremiah 30: 7-10, italics for emphasis). Such an encouraging promise in light of the deaths of the three Jewish boys at the hand of terrorists.
Now let’s turn to a prophecy from Ezekiel made specifically against the nation of Edom, but it’s the second declaration against Edom found in Ezekiel, and the second prophecy will also be generally applied to all of Israel’s enemies in the last days. In addition to Edom, other nations that Ezekiel prophesied against earlier in the book of Ezekiel were Ammon, Moab, Philistia, Tyre, Sidon, and Egypt. In part, these are ancestor nations/peoples of the current countries that surround Israel, and to some extent includes Arabs living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, whether literal descendants or figurative of all those who dare take on God’s special possession, Israel.
An Ominous Warning for Israel’s Enemies
Warning! You are about to read graphic language straight from the mouth of the true and living God, the God of Israel, and the God of all who have put their trust in his son, Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Christ). But these harsh future judgments to be inflicted by God against Israel’s enemies (and there are many such passages in Scripture) reveal to us the serious consequences and destiny of those who seek to destroy Israel and the Jews. In our day that includes Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Yemen, Libya, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, possibly Jordan, and other more distant nations such as Turkey and Russia (the Gog/Magog invasion of Ezekiel 38 & 39). And all other nations or individuals that are in complicity with those who seek to curse, not bless Israel, will pay an enormously harsh price for their animosity toward Israel and the Jews. (See the often quoted verse of Genesis 12:3). Even the United States is not exempt from this solemn promise of the Most High God.
“Again a message came to me from the Lord: ‘Son of man, turn and face Mount Seir, and prophesy against its people. Give them this message from the Sovereign Lord: ‘I am your enemy, O Mount Seir (Edom), and I will raise my fist against you to destroy you completely. I will demolish your cities and make you desolate. Then you will know that I am the Lord. Your eternal hatred for the people of Israel led you to butcher them when they were helpless, when I had already punished them for all their sins. As surely as I live, says the Sovereign Lord, since you show no distaste for blood, I will give you a bloodbath of your own. Your turn has come! I will make Mount Seir utterly desolate, killing off all who try to escape and any who return. I will fill your mountains with the dead. Your hills, your valleys, and your ravines will be filled with people slaughtered by the sword … Therefore, as surely as I live, says the Sovereign Lord, I will pay back your angry deeds with my own. I will punish you for all the acts of anger, envy, and hatred. And I will make myself known to Israel by what I do to you” (Ezekiel 35: 1-11).
Israel’s Final Restoration
The final stage of Israel’s restoration will begin with a widespread spiritual turnaround described by Ezekiel as follows: “And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations. And you will live in Israel, the land I gave your ancestors long ago. You will be my people, and I will be your God” (Ezekiel 36: 26-28).
At the conclusion of the time of Jacob’s troubles—the end of the Tribulation period—the redeemed remnant of Israel and all of the tribulation Christians will see what John saw in his stunning vision of the final battle to end all battles—Armageddon. They will watch in awe as what John saw comes to pass:
“Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. Its rider was named Faithful and True, for he judges fairly and wages a righteous war. His eyes were like flames of fire, and on his head were many crowns. A name was written on him that no one understood except himself. He wore a robe dipped in blood, and his title was the Word of God. The armies of heaven, dressed in the finest of pure white linen, followed him on white horses. From his mouth came a sharp sword to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod. He will release the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty, like juice flowing from a winepress. On his robe at his thigh was written this title: King of all kings and Lord of all lords” (Revelation 19: 11-16).
Soon afterward, the Antichrist beast and his false prophet will be thrown into the Lake of Fire and Satan will be bound in the Abyss for a thousand years, which begins the Millennial Reign of Christ and the host of heaven.
Then another prophecy of Ezekiel will come to pass: “My servant David will be their king, and they will have only one shepherd. They will obey my regulations and be careful to keep my decrees. They will live in the land I gave my servant Jacob, the land where their ancestors lived. They and their children and their grandchildren after them will live there forever, generation after generation. And my servant David will be their prince forever. And I will make a covenant of peace with them, an everlasting covenant. I will give them their land and increase their numbers, and I will put my Temple among them forever. I will make my home among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people. And when my Temple is among them forever, the nations will know that I am the Lord, who makes Israel holy” (Ezekiel 37: 24-28).
Amazing! Astounding! Jesus was also given the title name of Immanuel, which as many of you know means: God with us. Indeed, God was with us in the form of the Son of Man who was equally the Son of God for some thirty-three years on this earth. Once again this mighty Son of God, Son of Man, and Son of David will return to the earth and will, make his home among them. God with us, literally on the earth, in the holy city Jerusalem of the holy land of Israel, forever and ever. It simply doesn’t get any better than that!
Let’s examine another passage: “Sing O daughter of Zion; shout aloud, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! For the Lord will remove his hand of judgment and will disperse the armies of your enemy. And the Lord himself, the King of Israel, will live among you! At last your troubles will be over, and you will never again fear disaster. On that day the announcement to Jerusalem will be, ‘Cheer up, Zion! Don’t be afraid!’ For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs” (Zephaniah 3: 14-17).
Finally, all mourning in Israel will cease. No fear, no terror, no worry whether the children will return home.
Imagine, Jesus, himself singing songs of rejoicing! I can’t wait to see and be part of that!
Things to Ponder
Think about it. Read about it. All other gods are man-made, including the god of Islam. Why can anyone make such a bold statement as this? Because only the God of the Bible, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and his Messiah, can and have predicted the future. Not just once, but hundreds of times. Hundreds of prophecies have been fulfilled. Many more will come to pass precisely as found in the Bible.
The Prince of Peace (Sar Shalom) will indeed establish the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. It’s just a matter of time, but I’m fully persuaded that the time is soon, very soon. But to be part of that kingdom of real peace and justice, to be part of the family of God, to avoid God’s final judgment and justice that will separate believers in Christ from those who defy and reject their only hope for salvation and everlasting life, we must first find peace with God, himself.
How is that possible?
Let’s read: “And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous. And when God counted him as righteous, it wasn’t just for Abraham’s benefit. It was recorded for our benefit, too, assuring us that God will also count us as righteous if we believe in him, the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised to life to make us right with God. Therefore, since we have been right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us” (Romans 4:22-25, Romans 5:1, italics for emphasis).
It was the greatest sacrificial peace-offering of all time.
The Righteous (One) for the unrighteous.
The Just (One) for the unjust.
The Holy (One) for the unholy.
While we await his glorious return, may we continue to:
Sha’alu Shalom, Yerushalayim. (Pray for the peace of Jerusalem).