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Mindful of the Times

by Douglas Berner

But with whom was he grieved forty years? Was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness? Hebrews 3:17

In August 2006, I wrote an article, “The Transitional Generation” which was included in a PZ Insider Report in December. That article dealt with the issue of God’s dealings with Israel through a series of challenges where God was looking for a “leap of faith” response by the Israelites and a repeated cycle of forty years which God has used for testing and chastisement.

The unfavorable report by ten of the twelve spies sent to reconnoiter the Promised Land which led the Israelites to rebel against God at Kadesh Barnea during the Exodus caused God to force that generation (age 20 and up) to die off during a wandering which ultimately lasted forty years.

At the end of the forty years wandering the Israelites led by Joshua rose to God’s challenge and entered the Promised Land under the miraculous protective hand of God.

From the time of Israel’s rejection and crucifixion of Jesus Christ around the year 30 A.D. until the destruction of the Jewish Temple and Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 A.D. was another period of essentially forty years. During that period the apostles preached the gospel message to the Jews and again the majority of the Jewish nation rejected the message. Israel failed God’s “leap of faith” test, both with the rejection of Jesus and with the rejection of Christ’s apostles. At the end of the forty year period the Jewish Temple was destroyed and the majority of the surviving Jews were exiled from the land.

In 1967, Israel miraculously regained control of much territory including the Old City of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount during the Six-Day War. Israel faced another “leap of faith” test. Would Israel return to spiritual belief in God? Would Israel rebuild its Temple now that it had control of its most holy site on the Temple Mount? Or, would Israel remain in rebellion to God? Sadly, the leadership of Israel led by Moshe Dayan, Israel’s Defense Minister, chose the latter course of action. Israel failed this “leap of faith” test and again renewed its national rebellion against God. Ten days after recapturing the Temple Mount Moshe Dayan entered the Al-Aksa Mosque and relinquished administrative control over the Temple Mount to the Supreme Moslem Council (the Waqf) which was controlled by Jordan. This act was a direct historical repeat of the rebellion against God at Kadesh Barnea which forced the Israelites into the forty years of wandering before the next generation was granted access to the Promised Land.

The Six-Day War and the relinquished control over the Temple Mount have been followed by a period of forty years. These forty years have been a time of testing and chastisement of Israel by God. Since Israel’s miraculous victory in the Six-Day War in 1967, Israel has experienced a downward spiral of increasingly poor military and political decisions in its quest for peace while rejecting a national reliance on God. In the process Israel’s leadership has made many compromises with the security of its people.

Where is Israel in its relationship to God today? Has it learned a lesson from its own repeated history?

As a nation Israel is no closer to turning to God in a “leap of faith” trust than it was forty years ago. Politically, Israel has never been in such a chaotic mess. Its mighty military reputation gained in the Six-Day War has vanished. Its military compromises and political weaknesses are so obvious to the world that it is practically begging the Arab-Muslim world to attack it.

We must conclude that Israel has failed this forty year period of testing. That leads us to wonder what God has in store for Israel in the immediate future. Will it be a regional Middle East war where some unfulfilled prophecies see fulfillment such as the destruction of Damascus in Isaiah 17? Will Israel’s current political weakness lead it to misjudge the abilities and intentions of its adversaries or to overreact in the face of a multi-fronted attack against its soil so that it utilizes nuclear weapons against Syria or Iran? Will it face the sudden invasion of the alliance of Gog and Magog prophesied in Ezekiel 38-39?

These are definitely times of which we must be mindful. But specifically what dates should we be particularly aware? At this time of the year (May 13, 2007) we are entering and approaching several dates which are both Biblically and historically important to Israel and the church. These include: The Six-Day War, Israel’s birth as a nation, Israel’s recapture of Jerusalem, the ascension of Jesus Christ to heaven, Israel’s rejection of the Temple Mount, the Feast of Pentecost, the ninth of Av (Tish’a Be’av), and later this summer the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah), the Feast of Atonement (Yom Kippur), and the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot).

Gary Stearman has written an article for the May 2007 issue of Prophecy in the News magazine called, “A Remarkable 40th Anniversary” which also focuses on the fortieth anniversary of Israel’s Six-Day War. One of the things that Stearman points out is that the anniversary of this war and the observance of Pentecost can be noted in connection to two different calendars: the Gentile (Gregorian) calendar and the Jewish calendar. This is a very good article. His point also applies to other dates than just the Six-Day War.

May 2007:

13th/14th      Anniversary of ascension of Jesus Christ (10 days before Pentecost on Jewish calendar)

14th      Israel’s 59th Birthday as a nation (Gregorian calendar)

14th thru 19th     40th anniversary of the Six-Day War (Iyar 26 – Sivan 2) on the Jewish Calendar

Do we see a conjunction of dates here? There is a parallel between the ascension of Christ ten days before Pentecost and the Six-Day War beginning ten days before the Jewish observance of Pentecost.

16th      40th anniversary of Israel’s recapture of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount (Jerusalem Day on the Jewish calendar)

18th      Anniversary of ascension of Jesus Christ (10 days before Christian Pentecost) (Gregorian calendar)

23rd/24th     Jewish observance of Shavuot (Pentecost) (celebrates the giving of the Law to Moses on Mt. Sinai)

26th      40th anniversary of Israel’s rejection of Temple Mount (Moshe Dayan relinquished control to the Islamic Waqf on Sivan 9 on the Jewish calendar)

27th      Anniversary of Pentecost (celebrates the birth of the Church on the Gregorian calendar)

June 2007:

5th – 10th      40th anniversary of the Six-Day War (Gregorian calendar)

7th      40th anniversary of Israel’s recapture of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount (Gregorian calendar)

17th      40th anniversary of Israel’s rejection of Temple Mount (Gregorian calendar)

July 2007:

3rd     17th Tammuz on Jewish calendar

24th     9th Av (Tish’a Be’av) on Jewish calendar (observance of the destruction of first and second Jewish Temples – see my article “The Transitional Generation”)

September 2007:

13th/14th     Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah – Tishri 1 on Jewish calendar)

13th – 22nd     Ten Days of Awe (first ten days of the month of Tishri on Jewish calendar)

22nd     Feast of Atonement (Yom Kippur)

27th – October 3rd     Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot)

It is also important to point out that this year the Islamic holy month of Ramadan will start on the same date as the Jewish Feast of Trumpets on the 13th of September. In 2007, Ramadan extends from September 13th through October 12th.

I have not discussed the significance of the 9th of Av on the Jewish calendar. I focused on the importance of this date in my article “The Transitional Generation.” That article is posted on my website, and there are a number of other articles on the internet which cover it in some detail. There is a point that connects the events of 1967, to the date of the 9th of Av (which is the anniversary of the rebellion of the Israelites against God at Kadesh Barnea) which I did not make in my previous article. As a result of the rejection of Israel’s control over the Temple Mount by Moshe Dayan on June 17, 1967, the Islamic Waqf forbid any Jewish prayer activity on the Temple Mount. In opposition to this situation, Rabbi Shlomo Goren led a Jewish group in prayer on the Temple Mount on August 15, 1967. That date happened to be the 9th of Av on the Jewish calendar, which is specifically why Rabbi Goren chose that date. Rabbi Goren was the chief Rabbi of the Israeli army and was the one who blew the Shofar (ram’s horn trumpet) at the Western Wall on the day the Israeli army recaptured the Temple Mount on June 7th. Rabbi Goren believed Israel had an obligation to take control of the Temple Mount and to rebuild its Temple. The Jewish prayer activity on the Temple Mount that Tish’a Be’av sent the Islamic Waqf into a frenzy and it locked the gates to bar Jewish access to the Temple Mount. Again, the political and military leadership of Israel failed this “leap of faith” challenge that God had presented before it in the form of Rabbi Goren and his prayer group. What will happen forty years later?

Will anything significant happen in Israel this spring or summer? Only God can answer for certain. But God certainly uses repeated cycles of time in His dealings with Israel and the forty year cycle is a very prominent one that has a direct application to the time that we are just entering. For those who are predicting that no war involving Israel will take place this summer, I can only observe that they seem to be reading a completely different roadmap than I am. My guide book to the Middle East says, “Major road hazards immediately ahead.”

We should keep in mind the command that Jesus Christ gave to the church of Sardis in His letter to the churches in Revelation 3:3, Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come upon thee as a thief , and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. Blessed are those believers who are mindful of the times.