Number 81. Focus on Israel
Clifford Denton and Dave Hilsley


We must remember the answer to Joshuaís question when he crossed over Jordan into the Promised Land. He had Jericho before him, and also all the other struggles to take the Land of Canaan as an inheritance for his people. He asked the Man who appeared before him (Joshua 5:13-18) whether he was for the Israelites or their adversaries. The answer was that he was not for one or the other, intimating that the question lacked some understanding, ďNo, but as commander of the army of the Lord, I have now come.Ē He also said, ďTake your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.Ē While Israel was and is Godís special people, there were and still are higher purposes than simply winning battles for Israel.

The attitude of God has not changed over time. What began in the days of Moses and Joshua will be completed in the end time.

The Scriptures testify powerfully to an everlasting covenant with Israel and it contains a land promise as well as a spiritual promise. Israel needs land, as do all the nations on earth. Yet the land is a symbol of something higher as well; an eternal dwelling place in the Paradise of God. Israel is at the centre of covenant history, needing a land but also salvation. They have suffered on account of this, being the first to be made accountable for their sins. Israel is Godís servant through whom all may learn to focus on the plan of salvation. The plan of salvation is for people from all nations, Israel at the centre and having the first revelation of Messiah, then the rest of the nations. Israelís opportunity came when Jesus first came to the earth. Then, God set them aside while giving all people on earth the opportunity to repent and be saved through belief in the Jewish Messiah, but Israel will return to centre stage at the end of time.

Yet, if the Man who appeared to Joshua were to appear again today, he would say the same thing. Godís covenant purposes are still being fulfilled as Israel goes back to their land today and they are higher than simply supporting Israel through her trials, though they are a central nation to outwork those purposes. We must ensure that we are in balance over this, or we will be biased in our own judgements of what God is doing today, as the first stirrings of Israel returning to their land have taken place.

It is likely that there is human as well as heavenly reaction to Israel in the present day. On the negative side there are those who misinterpret the Scriptures and think that Israel is no longer a nation with a special promise for the end times. They see Israel in the Land as a political accident. On the other there are those who can see no wrong in Israel and would think that Godís attention to Israel in these days completely disregards the fact that, at the moment and in many ways, Israel is far from being a nation following God. Wherever we are between these two positions, we respond to Godís covenant work in Israel and among the nations influenced by our view. We can be harsh in our opinions and we can also be over-emotional, both attitudes being human reactions rather than ones that are fully from the heart of God.

When Daniel was in exile, Cyrus gave the major decree for the rebuilding of the Temple, but study of the approximate dates of history indicate that there were still some years of exile to go. It was some years before the work of restoration began to succeed to completion. Could it be similar today, with much human effort and thinking still surrounding the nation of Israel? We must be among those who see Godís higher purposes for the whole covenant plan and also what must happen in Israel before the Holy Spirit is poured out. Daniel and other prophets have spoken clearly of an end time completion of Godís purposes for Israel, but it will be in a time of trouble greater than any that went before and in the midst of a world Empire of immense ungodliness. We are not at that point yet, and so the Gospel is also going out among all nations, with still some great harvests for the Kingdom of God to be brought in.

Our support for Israel in a realistic sense is vital, but it must be in a realistic and balanced sense, or we will send busloads, boatloads and planeloads of Jews to Israel to face trouble without them being aware of either the need of salvation or the nature of the days that lie ahead. We must also be aware that all nations will one day turn on Israel and in the end will be judged on account of the way they treated these people at the centre of Godís covenant purposes.

These are the days when the whole covenant community should seek to be united in Spirit and Truth regarding the times to come so that we can act as one man, balanced in perception of Godís covenant purposes for Israel and what this means for the rest of the world. Most of us need to study this more deeply in order to come to a rightly balanced conclusion that will influence our response to Godís whole covenant work in these days, which are surely coming quickly to completion. The prophecies of Daniel are basic to this understanding.

Notes

The following is a plausible timetable of the events that Daniel prophesied

586 BC Exile begins at time of Nebuchadnezzar Babylonian Empire dominates world of Middle East

539 BC Cyrus gives edict beginning return to rebuild Temple. This is also the time of Darius the Mede. Some say that Darius the Mede is the same as Cyrus the Great and this would be on account of different names being used for the same Kings. Others see him as a relative of Cyrus put in charge of Babylon. In both cases the time of Cyrus the Great is the same as Darius the Mede. Kingdom of Medes and Persians

539 BC Danielís prayer

516 BC Temple completed with troubles all around. Rebuilding of Jerusalem delayed.

Four succeeding Kings of Persia are

Cambyses, son of Cyrus (530-522 BC)
Gautama (522 BC)
Darius I (522-486 BC)
Xerxes (Called Ahaseurus in Esther) (486-464 BC)

(Xerxes stirred up Greece which began the move culminating in the defeat of Persia by Alexander the Great)

464 to 423 BC Artaxerses I

In 444 BC the edict went out from Artaxerxes (Ezra 7) confirming and extending Cyrusís edict. This is the beginning of the 70 weeks of years prophesied by Daniel for his people. The wall was completed and then Jerusalem was built up.

Alexander the Great (336-323 BC)

Greek Empire

After 323 BC four of Alexanderís generals rule four areas of the Greek Empire. The Northern and Southern rulers have specific mention (North and South of Israel. North: Syria, the Seleucids, South: Egypt, the Ptolomies)

Some of the Kings of the North and South

Egypt The Ptolemies

a. Ptolemy I Sotar 323-285 BC
b. " II Philadelphus 282-246 BC
c. " III Euergetes 246-221 BC
d. " IV Philopator 221-203 BC
e. " V Epiphanes 204-181 BC
f. " VI Philometor 181-146 BC

Syria: The Seleucids.

g. Seleucus I Nicastor 311-280 BC
h. Antiochus I Sotar 280-261 BC
i. Antiochus II Theos 261-246 BC
j. Seleucus II Callinicus 246-226 BC
k. Seleucus III Ceraunus 226-223 BC
l. Antiochus III (the Great) 223-187 BC
m. Seleucus IV Philopator 187-175 BC
n. Antiochus IV Epiphanes 175-164 BC (Type of the Anitchrist)
o. Antiochus V Eupator 164-162 BC

Using the letters preceding the above rulers as an abbreviation, Jerome identifies the Kings of the North and South relating to the fulfilment of Prophecy in Chapter 11 as

Verse 5, a and b
Verse 6, b and I
Verse 7 to 9 c and j (involving Berenice)
Verse 10 k and d
Verses 10 to 19 l (involving Cleopatra)
Verses 14 to 17 e
Verse 20 n
Verses 25 to 27 f
Verses 21 to 35 n

This plausible interpretation from ancient historical sources puts Antiochus Epiphanes as a forerunner of the coming antichrist placing the type of abomination on Temple Mount, and all of Daniel 11 up to verse 35 as fulfilled history.

From 2nd Century B.C Roman Empire grew to dominance, dividing under Diocletian (285 AD and Valentius 364 AD), continuing in its influence until the present day and will divide into ten areas in the future.

Around Verse 36 of Daniel 11 there is a coincidence with the end of the first 69 weeks of Danielís prophecy where there is a break in Godís attention to Israel. This coincides with the Crucifixion of Jesus.

Then begins the time when the Gospel goes to all nations prior to the end.

The last seven years of Jacobís Trouble lie ahead, out of which will come a great salvation and the judgement of all nations.

(This article was first published on the Tishrei Web site ďfamilyrestorationmagazineĒ)