Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Israel and Fulfillment of Prophecy
Hopefully, you have been aware of Israel's attack on Gaza. There has been much said both for and against the current hostilities and I'm surprised how polarized opinions are-- or should I really say I'm surprised how many people don't agree with me. But one thing it is hard to disagree with are the scriptures so I actually pulled them out and brushed up on a few things.
With all the discussion on the current events in Israel, I'm a little surprised there isn't more focus on the spiritual side of this topic. My mother used to tell me that when she was a little girl, she remembered discussing the prophecies about Jerusalem with her parent and thinking how foolish they were because at that time the city hadn't existed for hundreds of years.
How miraculous that Jerusalem even came into existance at all. "And kings shall be thy nursing fathers and queens they nursing mothers." (I Nephi 21:23, Isaiah 66:19) I know it sounds silly, but I'm always amazed by how cleverly this is worded (duh, who worded it) clearly defining two groups, since the US (kings) and England (queens) established this country soon after the second world war.
With the Jews gathered to their homeland, we are told there is some scary stuff that's coming- scarier still is that it is one of the BIGGEST signs of the times. Certainly, there has always been conflict in the Mideast, but that was also prophecied. Zechariah gives the clearest account of the last days in Jerusalem (scriptures the Jews have and believe). He says "I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about," Zech. 12:2. In reading Isaiah 51:17-21 you can see they have forsaken the prophets and some of the blame is their own.
We already know the end of this conflict. The final battle will come and in Zech. 14:2 it says, "For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem." I used to think it was a combination of their enemies ganging up on them, but that's not what it says. (Could it be the UN or will everyone just be so mad at Israel, we'll all be united? I don't know- it will be interesting to see.) At that point the Jewish people will run for their lives to the Mount of Olives. (Interestingly, according to Joel 3:14 it is shortly after this the "moon is darkened and the stars withdraw their shining." )
That is when Christ will appear to them to comfort them and finish the fight. Although this event is talked about in Zech. 12: 20, Isaiah 29:23 and Rev. 16: 16-20, my favorite account is in D&C 45: 51, 52 "And then shall the Jews look upon me and say: What are these wounds in thine hand and in thy feet? Then shall they know that I am the Lord: for I will say unto them: These wounds are the wounds with which I was wounded in the house of my friends. I am he who was lifted up. I am Jesus that was crucified. I am the Son of God."
From here on a lot of things happen all at once, but I believe we general think they will return to their homes and those that are faithful will join with the Saints on earth for a season before the complete end is ushered in when the world is covered with fire and the righteous lifted above it and all men will see him and know that he is.
I suppose in all the worry and political concern over Israel, it is important we turn to our scriptures and realize what we are seeing there. In JS-Matthew as they discuss the conflict in Jerusalem (in verse 31 the abomination of desolation is speaking specifically about the destruction of Jerusalem), they warn again that is directly after this event that the sun will be darkened, the moon turned to blood, the heavens shall be shaken (huge earthquake and lots of speculation I stay away from) and then comes the sign in the heavens that all will recognize as preceding Christ's actual appearance. (see JS-M 31-39) It's in that last verse that we are told "mine elect, when they shall see all these things, they shall know that he is near, even at the doors."
It is awesome to be living in a time where you can watch the end unfold, which is what we are watching. That unfolding could take another hundred years, I don't know, but I do know I want to keep my eyes and my scriptures open so I know what I'm really seeing.