The Bible contains so many comforting words of assurance that everything will be all right in the end. It contains a number of frightening words as well, but our preference is to avoid those, thinking that they must apply to someone else. Consider, for example, this familiar passage by the Apostle Paul:
But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. (I Thessalonians 5:1-6 NKJV)
We like to think of ourselves as those who will not be caught off guard. After all, what would it mean if we are among those caught unaware when sudden destruction comes?
But what if the apostle’s words are intended to warn those among God’s people who are not paying attention? Paul seems satisfied that his correspondents in Thessalonica are sufficiently alert, but can he say the same about their brethren elsewhere – or perhaps us today, two thousand years removed from his personal instruction? His friends in Thessalonica probably understood that his words about those who say, “Peace and safety!” referred to prophecies Jeremiah and Ezekiel had spoken about the people of God who paid no attention to the signs of the times and refused to repent when YHVH sent them warning (see Jeremiah 6:9-15, 8:8-12, and Ezekiel 13:15-16).
Surely the apostle was also aware of Messiah Yeshua’s parable about the Ten Virgins – all of whom went to sleep while waiting on their Bridegroom (Matthew 25:1-13). The difference between the wise and the foolish was not their degree of vigilance, but their degree of preparation. That, too, is something we should heed.
Consider what happened on December 23, 2016 (23 Kislev 5777 in the Hebrew calendar). That was the day United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 declared illegal anything Israeli that exists beyond the 1967 borders of Israel. That means not just the communities that have grown up on unoccupied and unowned land in Judea and Samaria (commonly called the West Bank), but neighborhoods in the neighborhoods of East Jerusalem where friends of mine live. It means as well the Temple Mount and the Kotel (Western Wall), the holiest sites in Judaism and the places God Himself has established as His own.
The outrage is not that the UN has done this thing, for they have issued resolutions like this before. What is most disturbing is that the resolution passed the Security Council with the abstention of the United States, and a day after Egypt, which had been ready to submit it for a vote, withdrew it. In other words, on Thursday evening, December 22, everyone who was watching said, “Ah, we can relax now. We shall have peace and safety in Jerusalem.” But then on Friday morning, New Zealand, Senegal, Malaysia, and Venezuela stepped in to do what Egypt would not. They submitted the resolution, 14 nations voted in favor, and the United States allowed it to pass. And now my law-abiding, peaceful Israeli friends faced accusation of crimes against humanity simply because their homes happen to be on the wrong side of a line on a map.
If it is any comfort, there is no way we could have prevented this. If we really are in the last hours of the Last Days of this present age, as I and others believe, then this must happen no matter what we do to prevent it. Jerusalem is already a cup of trembling for the nations, and will become even more so in days to come.
Truly 2017 promises to be a memorable year. Watch Jerusalem and the Land of Israel, and watch the remnant of Israel (Judah and Joseph/Ephraim) still in the nations. War and upheaval advanced the restoration of YHVH’s covenant nation of Israel in 1917 and 1967. On October 31, 1917, brave Australian horse soldiers struck the decisive blow at the Battle of Beersheba, opening the way for a British-led army to liberate Jerusalem and all the Holy Land from Turkish occupation. As the military campaign proceeded, the British government issued the Balfour Declaration on November 2, committing to the establishment there of a national home for the Jewish people. That dream became reality 30 years later, in 1948, but it was not until the Six Day War in June 1967 that Jerusalem became the undivided capital of Israel, and the biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria (the “West Bank”), as well as Gaza and the Golan, came under Israeli administration.
There is much, much more to the story. The important thing is to note the timing of these momentous events: 100 years ago; 50 years ago; this year. What will we see? Most certainly war and upheaval, thanks to the apparent agenda of the United Nations to impose a two state solution on Israel. The world has come against Israel and the Jewish people, and against Christians and others who support Israel. At the moment the world is not yet aware of us who have awakened to our Hebrew identity, but it will, and we also will become targets of indignation and worse.
This is not the time for fear, but for rejoicing in our God, the Shield and Strength of His land and people. That is what the Knesset Education Committee is doing with their exhibition commemorating the 50th anniversary of Jerusalem’s reunification. Initial coverage of the exhibition came through The Jewish Press, which recognized it as a proper response to the Security Council’s resolution. The Washington Post cited the article a day later in a piece about the backlash against Secretary of State John Kerry’s denouncement of Israel in his speech on December 28. The article is reposted here as an encouragement to all who love Jerusalem and long to see the fulfillment of the Creator’s covenant promises to restore the entire nation of Israel.
Published: December 28, 2016
The Knesset Education Committee on Tuesday held the inauguration of “Jerusalem Now & Forever,” a photo exhibition celebrating the 50th year of the reunification of Jerusalem. The exhibition features photos from the renowned “Photographer of Jerusalem,” Sharon Gabay, who captured the beauty, diversity and tolerance of the Holy City. The images are printed on glass, representing the fragility of the holy city in the reality of today’s Middle East.
The images will be displayed at the Knesset over the next two weeks, and then travel around the world in 2017, providing people everywhere with the opportunity to celebrate 50 years of a unified Jerusalem. It will make stops in 50 global cities, landing finally in NY City.
The project is an initiative of Israel’s grassroots Zionist movement, Im Tirtzu, which teamed up with Sharon Gabay to reveal the beauty of Jerusalem to the world. According to Im Tirtzu, the exhibition will serve not only as a tribute to the City, but be an answer to those who would use the 50th year of Jerusalem’s redemption to attack the State of Israel.
MKs Yehuda Glick (Likud), Ilan Gilon (Meretz), Yakov Margi (Shas), Haim Jelin (Yesh Atid), Zouheir Bahloul (Zionist Camp), Oded Forer (Yisrael Beitenu), Meirav Ben-Ari (Kulanu), and Benny Begin (Likud) attended the Tuesday opening.
MK Glick, who had invited the exhibition to the Knesset, delivered the opening remarks, saying, “A picture, as is known, is worth a thousand words. These pictures deliver a clear message that Jerusalem is a beautiful city, alive and well; a city in which millions of residents of different colors and beliefs live in harmony. Jerusalem at its essence, and as evidenced by its name, is a city of peace. In the words of the Prophet Isaiah, ‘for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations.’”
Sharon Gabay said, “There are many people here who see the photos and are surprised. I am not surprised: whoever would take a camera and walk around the city – this is what he would see. When they talk about Jerusalem in the news, we only see wars, checkpoints, fire and smoke. But I want to photograph the truth, and the truth is that Jerusalem is a pluralistic city that accepts everyone.”
Im Tirtzu CEO Matan Peleg talked about the deep connection between the Jewish People and Jerusalem: “The Jewish nation is the only nation in history that under the wedding canopy makes a declaration to remember their eternal capital. ‘If I forget thee, O Jerusalem [let my right hand forget her cunning]’ is not just a territorial promise, but part of the very essence of the nation. Displaying this exhibition throughout the world will enable the Jewish People to experience the joy of Jerusalem.”
Education Committee Chairman MK Yakov Margi also gave his blessings to the exhibition, which “expresses the message of Jerusalem: coexistence and peace. This is an exhibition that needs to travel the country and the world, and go to places that only receive a very selective Israeli experience.”