By Zola Levitt
This article appeared originally in the September–November 1996 Levitt Letters.
Zola has written a chapter entitled “Israel, Earth’s Lightning Rod” for an upcoming book on prophecy, Foreshocks of Antichrist, which is a collection of articles on prophecy by various authors to be published by Harvest House in March 1997. The following is an excerpt of the first section of this chapter, which is highly relevant to current events in Israel and the world.
Israel is the most important country in the world today. From a secular viewpoint, it is situated on the land bridge between the Asian and African continents, and it represents an island of democracy in an ocean of dictatorships. It is America’s key ally in the Eastern hemisphere. Economically, it is quite a power for its size, having an economy ten times the size of that of Egypt, Jordan and Syria put together! Politically, it is front-page news almost every day. The unbelieving world is indeed interested in Israel.
But for believers, its significance is beyond measure. The premillennial view of Scripture reveals that all believers will spend a thousand years in Israel with their King, and this could happen seven years from today! In the Second Coming, our Lord will not return to just any country, but as a matter of fact, “his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east” (Zech. 14:4). He will reign on the throne of David from Jerusalem, ruling a world of believing nations. We who have trusted Him for our salvation will rule with Him. The Bride of Christ will become the Queen of the Kingdom to come.
But before all of those happy events, there is the day of God’s wrath to contend with — “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7). Little Israel is involved in close to 100% of End Times prophecy.
The Tribulation period, the 70th week of Daniel, will transpire when the Antichrist makes a peace covenant with the nation of Israel. That simple statement has been uttered for quite a few years, but we happen now to live in a time when people are riding up on a constant basis with peace treaties for Israel to sign. This mere fact by itself is grounds to suppose that the time is very short before the entrance of the one who will ultimately betray Israel and the world. The improvement in the Antichrist’s treaty, compared to today’s peace agreements, is probably the guarantee he can give of Israel’s security, presumably by his ten-nation confederacy in western Europe. He will be able to provide close-in land, sea and air defenses. Another attractive feature may be the seven-year span of the treaty, and possibly permission for Israel to rebuild its temple at last. Whatever the terms of the treaty, the Antichrist would be clearly recognizable to Bible readers by his lavish promises of peace on earth. This will be a false peace, of course, but are we not living in an age of false peace agreements? As we look at a world containing Chechnya, Bosnia, Lebanon, Ireland and South Africa, to mention a few smoldering fires, we hear of peace agreements being signed and abrogated all the time. It is actually rather remarkable to compare our times with the biblical descriptions of the Tribulation period. (This is to say nothing of the famines, pestilences, earthquakes, wars and rumors of wars, offenses, betrayals, etc., spoken of by the Lord in His Olivet discourse [Matthew 24], which is also addressed to Israel [see verses 13, 15, and 16].)
Where Israel is concerned, an uneasy peace will obtain for three and a half years, at which time the Antichrist will sense the Jewish people’s suspicions of him, and will attempt to assert his authority. He will do no less than call himself the God of Israel, or in Paul’s words, “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God” (2 Thes. 2:3–4). Our Lord Himself, along with the prophet Daniel, foresaw the cataclysmic effects of this spiritual excess: “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains” (Matt. 24:15–16). In all probability, the Jewish people will bolt, having mistrusted the Antichrist right along. (Some teach that the Israeli leaders will accept him as a Messiah when he first comes. I do not believe they are that credulous. Having had bitter experience with false Messiahs in the past, they are far more careful than that. And after all, when the real Messiah presented Himself, they largely did not accept Him either.)
To continue our schedule of Tribulation-period events, we have the mobilization of the world’s armies, and particularly that of the King of the East and his force of 200-million men-at-arms, according to Revelation 9:16. It seems that the second half of the Tribulation is devoted to preparing for Armageddon, the world having heard enough of the Antichrist’s peace plans. Perhaps when the Israelis bolt, the Chinese and the others who are watching come to the conclusion that the Antichrist is not God after all, but is actually quite vulnerable. Since he controlled the world, then those who defeat him might control the world as well. And so the fight commences as the King of the East’s army literally marches to Armageddon, robbing, raping and pillaging as they go through the eastern hemisphere.
Where does a 200-million-man army march? Anywhere it likes. And so the Antichrist’s forces from western Europe and theatre nations designated as the King of the North and the King of the South, arm to meet this invader in that quiet, level valley in Israel surrounding the hill “called in the Hebrew tongue Har Megiddo (Armageddon)” (Rev. 16:16). The rest of the Tribulation period is the story of battles at Armageddon and Jerusalem, about which the Lord sadly observed, “And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved” (Matt. 24:22).
The Lord’s arrival at this point is, of course, the Second Coming, which initiates the thousand-year Kingdom in Israel. His first act is to judge the nations of the earth as to whether they are sheep or goats; that is, whether each citizen had a saving faith or not. He sets up a throne of judgment and utilizes as His standard — and note again here the importance of Israel — “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matt. 25:40). Most intensively “my brethren” refers to the Jewish people, or at least to the 144,000 “of all the tribes of the children of Israel” of Revelation 7:4. Outlawed, they still testified of Christ in the world, despite the Antichrist’s reign, and those who helped them, fed them, clothed them, visited them in prison, as the passage urges, demonstrate that they are sheep. Those who did not help them are goats and are bound with Satan for the duration of the thousand-year Kingdom.
If churches today who care little about Israel were put to the test of these Tribulation-period believers, one wonders if they would qualify as sheep under the Lord’s standards. One can only hope that believers in this age of relative freedom, prevalence of Bibles in many translations, and no Antichrist in power to contend with, would at a minimum be able to meet the test of the Tribulation period believers.
When the sheep have joined with the Old Testament saints and the church, the Kingdom has its population and it begins in earnest. It will last a thousand years, and while there will be some sin and some mischief in the world, it will be an upside-down society compared with what we have today. To believe in the King, who may be seen in Jerusalem from year to year, at least on the Feast of Tabernacles (Zech. 14:16–19), will be the choice of the vast majority of the world. The unbelievers in the Kingdom (the descendants of those who survived the Tribulation in their natural bodies and came directly to the Kingdom — the children of the “sheep,” as it were), will be as those born of Adam. They will have a choice between belief and unbelief, but those who choose the latter will be bound by the onerous laws of the Sermon on the Mount: “If thy right eye offend thee … if thy right hand offend thee …” (Matt. 5:29–30). It is at that time that the meek shall inherit the earth, and those who mourn will rejoice.
With that summation of upcoming events, we can begin to consider Israel as we see it today: as a harbinger of prophetic fulfillment.