Is the Middle East About to Explode?

Immediately following October 7th 2023, most of the world stood in solidarity with Israel as it reeled under the aftermath of the Hamas attacks. In the seven months since, that sympathy has ebbed away. The world has watched with growing dismay as Israel pursues its ferocious war against Hamas, with a huge weight of civilian casualties. The crisis in international support for Israel reached a head on 1st April, when an Israeli air strike killed seven aid workers in Gaza, prompting even Israel’s staunchest ally US President Biden to express outrage.

Then on 13th April Iran launched an attack on Israel consisting of some 300 missiles and drones, for the first time firing directly from inside Iran. Putting aside their differences, the US along with other allies assisted Israel in neutralising the attack. Iran is recognised as a mutual foe of Israel and its allies and the attack was seen as a threat to all of them. Also there was the very real fear that if the attack had caused significant casualties, Israel’s reaction could have escalated the situation into a region-wide war. The US and others are urging Israel to show restraint in its response.

None of us know what will happen next. The world watches in fear.

Bible readers have the comfort of knowing that the situation is not out of control. The destiny of the world is not in the hands of Messrs Netanyahu, or Biden, or Ali Khamenei, or anyone else. It’s in God’s hands: ‘The Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will and sets over it the lowliest of men’ (Daniel 4:17). And He has the end in view: ‘The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea’ (Habakkuk 2:14). This of course is a picture of the Kingdom of God, which will be established at the return of Jesus Christ.

The Bible gives us pointers to look out for as Christ’s return draws near, and we can see them being fulfilled in our time. For example, the nation of Israel re-established after a 1900 year exile (Ezekiel 11:17); the nation surrounded by enemies determined to destroy it (Psalm 83).  

Zechariah 12 is a graphic picture of the actual circumstances surrounding Christ’s return. It begins, ‘Behold, I am about to make Jerusalem a cup of staggering to all the surrounding peoples. The siege of Jerusalem will also be against Judah. On that day I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples. All who lift it will surely hurt themselves. And all the nations of the earth will gather against it’ (vs. 2-3). As the Israelis alienate world opinion in an increasingly flammable atmosphere, are we seeing this process start to unfold right now?

If you read on in the chapter you’ll see how the action culminates – with the appearance of Christ: ‘And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn’ (v. 10).

This, at last, will be the solution to the Middle East crisis. An arrogant Israel, brought to its knees by international pressure and finally brought to its senses by the arrival of its Messiah.

Can you imagine a world without fear, hatred and brutality? Where Jews, Arabs, and everyone else live together in harmony. That’s what the Bible promises, in the reign of the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). Do you want to be there?

Chris Parkin

Photo credit – Fars Media Corporation, CC BY 4.0

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