Signing a ‘covenant of peace and safety’ and having it confirmed among ‘many nations’.
Blog Note: For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. (1 Thessalonians 5:3). This verse is believed by eschatologists to be a key verse that describes a period of time when Israel signs a worldwide peace or security agreement that is confirmed or verified by the antichrist. Other Biblical verses describe this Jewish agreement as a covenant with death. This Israel security agreement event for ‘peace and safety’ is also believed to be one of the catalysts initiating the Tribulation period on earth. The world today is clamoring for a ‘two-state’ solution between the Jews and the Palestinians regarding the status and geography of Jerusalem. The Bible is clear that a large portion of land in the Middle East was given and promised to the Jews by God, including the current land under contention internationally. The Jews currently do not occupy any significant amount of land that was originally promised and given to them by God.
Zechariah 12:2 … Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem.
Zechariah 12:3 … And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.
Daniel 9:27 … And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.(Emphasis added).
1 Thessalonians 5:3 …For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. (Emphasis added).
Isaiah 28:15 … Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves:
Isaiah 28:18 … And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it. End of note.
This may come as a surprise, but Israel has never actually been divided by external forces (the nations/Gentiles). Ancient Israel was divided from within when the Ephraimite Jeroboam rebelled against Solomon’s son Rehoboam in the late 10th century BC. Eventually Assyria took the Northern Kingdom, and the whole of both northern and southern kingdoms fell into the hands of the Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Ptolemies, Seleucids, Romans, and eventually Islamic and crusader states.
There had not been a united Israel since the middle of the 10th century BC… that is, until 1948. While still not at its fullest, biblical extent, the modern country encompasses territory from both the ancient northern and southern kingdoms. And as for its people, though the word “Jew” is an anglicization of “Judea” and thus “Judah”, the people we call Jews are actually a mixture of all twelve of the ancient tribes of Israel. Are there more ethnic Israelites still to return to the land? Perhaps, but it would be inaccurate to say that only Judahites have returned.
Israel and ethnic Israelites are back in the Promised Land, and as just mentioned, the nations have never themselves divided Israel, though they came close in 1947. This brings the following prophecy from Joel into major focus, because it’s the fulfillment of this prophecy that triggers God’s judgment on all nations (aka the Day of the LORD):
I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. And I will enter into judgment with them there, on behalf of my people and my heritage Israel, because they have scattered them among the nations and have divided up my land…
– Joel 3:2
We learn several important things about the Tribulation from this passage:
1. First, the immediate context is the onset of the Day of the LORD, which begins contemporaneous with, or shortly after, the removal of the Church from the earth, which is presently restraining the spirit of lawlessness from global domination (2 Thess. 2).
Joel 2:28–32 describes events that unfold during the Church Age leading up to the Day of the LORD (c.f. Acts 2:17–21; Rom. 10:13; see also this article).
Then, in the latter days, when God finally “restore[s] the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem” (Jl. 3:1), which is in our lifetime, God will initiate the second global judgment. Remember, a century or so after Joel delivered his prophecy Israel was conquered by the Assyrians and then over a century after that, the Jews lost control of Jerusalem. The fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem would not be restored until 1948 and 1967 AD, respectively. This prophecy is pointing to those of us alive now—in the 21st century.
2. This final judgment of the nations will occur in the Valley of Jehoshaphat, which is generally thought to be the Kidron Valley that separates the Temple Mount in Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives. No doubt this is the area where Christ, who returns to the Mount of Olives (Zech. 14:2–4; Acts 1:9–12), will tread the winepress of God’s wrath, squashing the gathered armies of the nations into a river of blood at the end of the Great Tribulation.
- This judgment will occur because the nations have scattered the Jews (something that has been ongoing over the course of the past 2,740+ years) and divided God’s land (something that hasn’t yet happened, but is about to).Joel has helped us answered the “whens” and “for what reasons,” but why? Why is God going to judge all nations for dividing Israel?Because God made an everlasting covenant with the patriarch Abraham, endowing him and his descendants through Isaac with the Holy Land. God’s covenants cannot be broken and an everlasting covenant does not pass away. Thus, when the nations themselves divide Israel and Jerusalem, God, who cannot sin or break a promise, must judge the nations to vindicate His Name. This is why so many natural disasters have befallen the nations that have trifled with Israel these past 70 years. They weren’t judgments, they were warnings. When the actual judgment befalls those who sign on to the agreement that divides the land, there will be no mistaking it. Those nations will be destroyed.This is why students of Bible prophecy are always so focused on the ongoing efforts towards a comprehensive Middle East peace plan. All of the proposed plans involve dividing both Israel and Jerusalem and creating a new nation called “Palestine,” within the land covenanted to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The very nature of the push for a “two-state solution” screams prophecy:
1. It would divide Israel and create “Palestine.” Palestine is not presently a nation and neither has there ever been a country called Palestine, thus Israel is not presently divided (as evidenced by settlements all over Judea and Samaria and Israeli control of the West Bank).
2. It would be an agreement, which in ancient times would be called a covenant. This covenant would involve the “many”—all of the world’s nations, something that has never happened before. This instantly makes a final “peace” agreement the prime candidate for the seven year covenant confirmed by the antichrist in Daniel 9:27.
3. It would violate the everlasting covenant made with Abraham, thus requiring God’s intervention against all the perpetrators, which in this instance would be all the nations of the world (a truly global cataclysm, not just individual judgments against specific nations as in times past like Assyria and Babylon).
Now, we’ve discussed the division of the land and the everlasting covenant, but there is another covenant that seems to play a role as a catalyst for the Tribulation: the Mosaic covenant. This covenant was established at Mt. Sinai in order to condemn the whole world under sin until the Seed promised to Abraham was revealed (Christ). Now that the promised Seed has come, the whole world, condemned under sin, is faced with a single choice: to accept Christ or reject Him (Jn. 3:18).
The laws of the Mosaic covenant are unforgiving. A single violation makes one guilty of breaking the entirety of the covenant, thus it is a curse and condemns everyone under it, because no one can keep it (except Christ who kept it for us). This Law is holy and righteous and good (Rom. 7:12) and its standard still stands for those under it (Rom. 3:31), but those who accept God’s Messiah—who fulfilled the Law on their behalf—are not under it (Rom. 6:14). The Law has not been abolished, but fulfilled through Jesus Christ, and those who have faith in Him recognize that He has met all of its requirements for them.
Yet we see in the Tribulation that Israel has returned to the Mosaic covenant in its fullness, complete with Temple and daily sacrifices. Just a month and a half ago, the Aaronic priesthood dedicated the main altar for the Third Temple, for crying out loud. By rebuilding the Temple and reinstituting sacrifices, the nation is formally rejecting Christ and placing itself under a curse. And the curse of breaking the covenant is severe Tribulation (Lev. 26:14–46). God is opposed to these efforts to bring people under the Law, whether it be in the form of the Hebrew Roots Movement within Christianity (Gal. 2:21; 5:4; Rev. 2:9), or whether it be Israel rebuilding the Temple (Isa. 66:1–6). Both will bring a curse, and judgment.
Thus, the problem that Israel is about to face is twofold: it will have signed on to break the everlasting covenant with Abraham (dividing the land), but will simultaneously curse itself by bringing the whole nation under the Mosaic Law, which is itself a rejection of the second part of God’s everlasting covenant with Abraham: a Seed promised to redeem all of those who trust in the LORD (aka Christ via the gospel).
This twofold rejection of God’s promises precipitates the Day of the LORD, otherwise known as the Tribulation, or the Time of Jacob’s Trouble. These are the labor pains variously described in Scripture (Isa. 66:7–9; Jer. 30:1–7; Mt. 24, 1 Thess. 5:3) and Israel is the woman in labor.
Yet God does something miraculous to save Israel. He causes a nation to be born from her before her labor begins (Isa. 66:7–9). This heavenly nation is removed from the earth before trouble (Isa. 26:19–21; Rev. 3:10; 12:3–5). This nation, foolish in the eyes of Israel, is none other than the Church (Deut. 32:20–22; c.f. Rom. 10:19), which is snatched up to Heaven. When we’re gone, Israel will become jealous, which will ultimately lead them to finally recognize that their Messiah is none other than Yeshua—the One who fulfilled the Law for them. And when they finally have faith in Him, all the spiritual curses are removed and He intercedes to save them from their enemies.
So what’s next?
The rapture, the seven-year covenant, and rebuilding the Temple. As far as I can tell, every piece I’ve been looking for for many years is in place and we’re about to leave. I can no longer see anything on the horizon that might buy the world more time, except that our loving Creator is patient and slow to anger. He knows all of those who are His and there are apparently a few more stragglers who need to board the ark.
We live in an intriguing, exciting, but also unsettling time. It’s like when John ate the scroll and it was sweet in his mouth, but bitter in his stomach. We see the triumph that is so incredibly close for those of us who believe, but we are also being tormented in a world increasingly filled with unspeakable violence and sin. And we cry out for those we love who are far from God, desperately wishing that they could finally see.
There is once again an Israel with Israelites and the greatest heavenly sign for both the Church and the Jews has transpired. We truly live at the crossing of the dispensations, but how expansive is that crossing? It seems that nothing more needs to happen between now and the day we see His face.
When O LORD? We can’t yet see Your face, but have come to the end of the tunnel and see the light’s rays breathing in. Light for us, but greater darkness for those who refuse to believe.