The Gaza Conflict
The beginning of a new year always generates within me a renewed sense of anticipation regarding the Lord's return. Accordingly, I am hoping that 2009 will prove to be the year of the Rapture of the Church. So, instead of greeting you with the traditional, "Happy New Year," I will say, "Maranatha!" (see 1 Corinthians 16:22).
Four Key Prophecies
There certainly is not one prophecy that has to be fulfilled for the Lord to come for His Church. But prophecies are being fulfilled that point to the beginning of the Tribulation and the Second Coming, so we can be assured that the Rapture is an event that could occur any moment.
Particularly significant are the four key prophecies concerning the Jewish people in the end times, all of which are being fulfilled before our very eyes.
The first is the worldwide regathering of the Jews (Isaiah 11:11-12) which began in the 1890's and continues to this day.
Second is a natural consequence of the regathering — and that is the re-establishment of the nation of Israel (Isaiah 66:7-8) which occurred on May 14, 1948.
Third is the re-occupation of the city of Jerusalem (Zechariah 8:8 and Luke 21:24) which happened on June 7, 1967 as a result of the Six Day War.
The fourth is all the nations of the world coming together against Israel over the control of Jerusalem and the nation's heartland of Judea and Samaria (Zechariah 12:2-3). That is occurring now.
Many are wondering if the current conflict in Gaza might lead to the Russian-led invasion of Israel that is prophesied in Ezekiel 38 & 39. That is not possible because one of the conditions for that invasion is that the Jewish people must be living in peace in cities without walls (Ezekiel 38:8 & 11). That certainly is not the case at the moment. Most of the Jews of Israel are living behind a giant wall that runs the length of the country's heartland, separating them from the Palestinians. And tens of thousands of Jews in southern Israel have been living in bomb shelters to protect themselves from daily rocket attacks out of Gaza.
Psalm 83 War
Bill Salus, a Bible prophecy scholar in California, has proposed that the peaceful situation pictured for the Israelis in Ezekiel 38 might be the result of a victorious war against their Arab neighbors as pictured in Psalm 83 (see Salus' book, Isralestine).
Such a war could also solve a mystery concerning the Russian invasion — namely, the fact that the Russian coalition of Muslim states that is portrayed in Ezekiel 38 and 39 does not include any of the Arab states that currently exist adjacent to Israel.
Could it be that Israel will first fight the Psalm 83 war against its Arab neighbors? Then, after subduing them and experiencing true peace, the Russians would launch the Ezekiel 38 war which will result in the supernatural annihilation of their forces, including all the armies of their Muslim allies.
The Psalm 83 war would neutralize the inner ring of Muslim states. The Ezekiel 38 war would result in the destruction of the outer ring of Muslim nations.
These wars could occur before the Tribulation begins, and the Rapture could occur any time — before them, during them, or after them.
The nation to watch is Syria. They are one of Israel's prime enemies. They have sophisticated missiles, and they only have to shoot them 150 miles to hit key targets like Haifa and Tel Aviv. If they should launch a missile barrage, Israel's only hope would be the use of tactical nuclear weapons. It is prophesied that Syria's capital of Damascus will cease to exist in the end times (Isaiah 17:1-14 and Jeremiah 49:23-27). That could well prove to be one of the consequences of the Psalm 83 war.
We are living in exciting and momentous times when we can watch the consummation of historical events that are prophesied to lead up to the Lord's return. Put on your seat belt and pray!
*Bible Study Notes from Crosswalk.com for A Sword To Flash Like Lightening - If you would like to dig a little deeper and learn more about these prophetic verses here's a link to Matthew Henry Complete Commentary for Ezekiel 21:8-17: http://bible1.crosswalk.com/Commentaries/MatthewHenryComplete/mhc-com.cgi?book=eze&chapter=21#Eze21_9