In the last article we examined the restoration of Israel and the church during the Twentieth Century. We discovered that when revival took place in the body of Christ it was always accompanied by a simultaneous restoration of the nation of Israel. For instance, the Pentecostal Revival happened at the same time as the Zionist Movement and the Latter Rain and Healing Revivals took place at the same time as the Rebirth of the State of Israel. Also in 1967 during the Charismatic Revival and subsequent movements, such as; the Messianic Jewish Movement, Israel one again possessed the Biblical City of Jerusalem in fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy (Luke 21:24).
Another thing we discussed last time was the role that war played in removing obstacles to prophetic fulfillment. We saw that it took two world wars to bring the Jews back to the land and at least two local wars to establish them and reunite them with their ancient capital Jerusalem. Thus we concluded that when Israel is at an impasse with Gentile powers regarding the fulfillment of Biblical promises, war appears to be inevitable and the means God uses to move His plan forward. Whether it is a local Middle-East war or a World conflagration seems to depend on the need at hand and who it is that is standing in the way. In this article we will attempt to analyze the events since 1967 and apply the things we have learned to the current situation in the Middle-East and the church.
The Oslo Accords
The Bible is clear that Israel will go through a very difficult time at the end of the age known as the Tribulation period, when all nations under the control of Satan, will seek their annihilation. But before the Tribulation period begins they will sign a covenant or peace treaty (Dan 9:27) with a world leader which will divide the land (Joel 3:2), the city of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount (Rev 11:2). This treaty will sanction Israeli worship in the Holy Place, likely in an already rebuilt Temple, together with the Muslim activities in the outer court. It will be a seven year agreement, know to Bible students as Daniel’s Seventieth Week, with the first half resulting in peace in the Middle-East and the second half practically destroying mankind (Mt 24:22).
The Oslo Accords signed by Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat in the fall of 1993, under the watchful eye of the Americans, were a precursor to Daniel’s Seventieth Week. They laid out the framework for dividing the land, the city of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount which is referred to as the Final Status Agreement. It was hoped that by the end of a seven year period in the year 2000 this plan would be finalized. Of course it failed and instead the Intifada with a wave of suicide bombings began. Nevertheless, the Oslo Accords were instrumental in formulating the strategy of the nations in their attempt to thwart God’s plan for Israel and in setting the stage for the eventual Seventieth Week agreement. They were succeeded by the Bush administration’s Road Map following the Oslo framework and the Obama White House which has sought to force these agreements on Israel. Thus the Oslo Accords were a milestone in the advancement of the End-Time scenario as it relates to Israel.
The Toronto Revival
In the fall of 1993 there was a stirring in the church which led to the outbreak of the Toronto Revival in January 1994. I vividly remember hearing about this revival in the summer of the same year and trying to sift through all the reports. Eventually I succumbed to the urge to find out what it was all about and attended a conference that November called “Catch the Fire.” It was a most amazing gathering attended by over three thousand people from all over the world – many of them pastors and leaders. My life has never been the same since that event nor would I want it to be. I will never forget the way my heart fell in love with Christ all over again and how I was overwhelmed with the sense of Bridal joy and preparation for His soon return. Since that time it is safe to say millions of others have had the same experience.
It’s been over twenty years now since the Toronto Revival broke out and its effect on the church can be measured and analyzed. As already noted, all revivals have had abuses and excesses as well as ardent critics. This is certainly true of the Toronto revival which continues to be characterized as strange and incoherent mostly by folks who have never taken the time to examine it. Nevertheless, it is clear that this revival has brought restoration to the church worldwide and taken us closer to the experience and attitude of the early church. The tangible presence of God, intimacy with Christ and understanding the Father’s Heart are perhaps the lasting fruit. Another main revelation has been the healing of the heart and life’s hurts coupled with a desire to see the Bride of Christ healed. Regardless of the critics who have been unrelenting in their attacks, the Toronto Revival takes its place in the sequence of Twentieth Century outpourings ordained by God to prepare us for His return.
The Promised Sifting
Regardless of what many Christian leaders want us to believe, the end of the age is not presented in the Bible as a time of tranquility and prosperity even for believers. On the contrary it is a time of great sifting for the earth’s inhabitants when God will shake the nations and reveal the contents of every heart (Heb 12:26-29). Israel, as we have seen, is about to enter a time of great distress and apostasy through which the surviving remnant nation will be reconciled to the Messiah. Likewise the church is promised a great sifting prior to the Lord’s return. Peter warned us that judgment would begin with the church (1Pet4:17) and Jesus, speaking to John and the church at the end of the age , identified two groups; the lukewarm and the overcomers (Rev Chapters 2 & 3). Also in the gospels we are presented with one group of believers ready for His coming and another not ready (Mt 25:1-13) – one group looking up towards heaven’s solution (Luke 21:28) and another looking down towards earth and man’s agenda (Luke 21:34). In addition, Revelation Chapters 13 and 17 identify a Harlot Church that is in league with the Antichrist and his plan for world peace and security. Thus the church, like Israel will endure a time of great testing and sifting prior to Christ’s return, and since we go first, could it already be upon us?
Something Did Happen in the Year 2000
Throughout the Charismatic Movement and the Toronto Revival the body of Christ was, by in large, living in expectancy of Christ’s soon return. However, all that began to change after the year 2000 came and went. Many who had built theories on the secular calendar and Y2K rather than the teaching of Scripture, became disillusioned and hardened themselves against all End-Time teaching. Into this vacuum came the old notion that it all happened in 70AD with the destruction of Jerusalem and thus no more judgment is coming from heaven only love and kingdom culture through the restored church. This teaching has caught on with many, particularly those in Revival. Also, around the same time another message emerged which suggests that God no longer concerns Himself with sin and is just too nice to judge anybody. When we put all this together it is easy to comprehend why talk of sifting and shaking is considered negative and out of step with what God is doing. But where is all this going? Is this a countermove of the enemy taking advantage of our weak areas during revival? Is it a set up for the end of the age scenario so that many in the church will not only be blind to what’s happening in the earth but on the wrong side of it? In the year 2000 the Intifada began in Israel and it continues with terrorist bombs and rockets attempting to force the Jews to give up their hope and inheritance. But did a sort of spiritual intifada begin in the church as well to steal our heavenly hope and lure us into the treacherous waters of man’s agenda dressed in kingdom attire.
The Next Step for Israel
Israel has just celebrated sixty seven years since the rebirth of the state and it’s almost forty eight years since the recapture of Jerusalem. The physical return to the land was over in 1967 when the spiritual return began (Ezek 36:24-28). Since then God has been putting them in a vice of hardship so they will turn their hearts back to Him and once again rely on the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob instead of the Gentile nations. Since we know that the consecration of the Holy Place is necessary for the completion of the prophetic events outlined in Daniel 9:27, the next step in the process has to clear the way for this to happen. Currently the Dome of the Rock stands over the site, as all credible scholarship confirms, presenting a situation with no way forward. Not only are Israel’s enemies incensed at the thought of a Jew praying on the Temple Mount, the Israeli police arrest their own people for merely bowing the head. Furthermore, since the Temple Mount is part of the Final Status Agreement of the infamous Road Map, all the nations are against it as well. Israel is once again at an impasse with regard to God’s plan of restoration. However, in all the previous times when there was no way forward a miracle of God occurred. Why should this time be different? When Herzl went throughout Europe talking about a Jewish State, people thought he was crazy. “It can never happen” they said. But suddenly it came. When barbed wire stood between Israel and the Old City under Jordanian control for twenty years, no one thought things would change. Then suddenly the fence was gone. So too for the last forty eight years Israel has been prevented from consecrating the Holy Place by its own leaders and the hostility of the surrounding nations. This too is about to change. One morning in the near future you and I will wake up to the news that the Dome of the Rock is no more.
World War III
When Israel recaptured Jerusalem and took back the Temple Mount they were unwilling to take the next step because their hearts were not ready. Now they are afraid to let a Jew or a Christian pray there for fear it would begin World War III. But perhaps they have been prophesying a third world war all along. The Blood Moons on Jewish feasts have not been seen since the last impasse. Now here they are again with so many other signs. Since the first Blood Moon we have had the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Gaza war, the emergence of Isis, the showdown with Iran over nuclear weapons, the war in Yemen and forces from several of the above on Israel’s borders. Many would argue that with all these conflicts and nations involved World War III has already begun. Nevertheless, there is much more in store for 2015. In Part 3 of this post we will examine the situation developing in the Middle-East and the way in which it will likely unfold. We will also discuss the fresh wave of revival about to wash over the body of Christ.