Christian Articles

End Times Signs - Sign No.1

Have you ever wondered why the tiny nation of Israel is in the news almost every day? Why when Israel does anything it almost certainly makes headlines? Why the entire focus of peace in the middle east centers around Israel ? Why Israel , what is it that's so significant about this tiny little country about the size of Connecticut?Well it all started with a promise, a promise from God, and God wouldn't be God if he did not keep his promise. The promise from God was given about 4,000 years ago to a man named Abraham. What was this promise and what does it have to do with us in the 21st century? Well the promise was:

"Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you, I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." Genesis 12:1-3

So Abraham, packed up his bags, loaded up his camels and donkeys, left the land where he had grown up. Left the people that he had loved all his life and left the protection and comfort of his own Father and family. This was a big step of faith, but he trusted God to keep his promise and God did! Although Abraham did not personally get to see this land himself, God fulfilled his promise through Abraham's descendents. God led the descendents of Abraham into a land flowing with milk and honey. He blessed them, they prospered and grew into a great nation. Just as God had promised. The land, the promised land, is known today as Israel, well part of it any way, actually the land that Israel occupies today is just a small part of the land that God had promised to Abraham. Even though Israel is giving away land now, in the near future they will obtain all the land that God promised to Abraham. But that's another story that we will get to later.

Now, Israel was a nation, they occupied the land. They did not own the land, God owned the land, but you might say that God leased the land to Israel. As with all leases there is a lease agreement, a list of rules and regulations that must be followed. God gave Israel a list of rules and regulations that the people were to abide by. As long as Israel obeyed the rules they would be allowed to live in the land. Imagine having God as your landlord. One rule in particular that God gave Israel, was a rule regarding the very land itself. The law is as follows:

'When you enter the land I am going to give you, the land itself must observe a Sabbath to the LORD. For six years sow your fields, and for six years prune your vineyards and gather their crops. But in the seventh year the land is to have a Sabbath of rest, a Sabbath to the LORD. Do not sow your fields or prune your vineyards. Do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the grapes of your untended vines. The land is to have a year of rest. Whatever the land yields during the Sabbath year will be food for you--for yourself, your manservant and maidservant, and the hired worker and temporary resident who live among you, as well as for your livestock and the wild animals in your land. Whatever the land produces may be eaten. "'Count off seven Sabbaths of years--seven times seven years--so that the seven Sabbaths of years amount to a period of forty-nine years. Then have the trumpet sounded everywhere on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement sound the trumpet throughout your land. Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each one of you is to return to his family property and each to his own clan. The fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you; do not sow and do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the untended vines. For it is a jubilee and is to be holy for you; eat only what is taken directly from the fields. "'In this Year of Jubilee everyone is to return to his own property. Leviticus 25: 2-13

This rule must have been in the fine print, because Israel never once obeyed. The rule basically says, that Israel could farm the land, plant and harvest their crops and reap the bounty. They could do this for six years, but every seventh year they had to let the land rest. No planting, no tending of the crops, but whatever did grow they were allowed to eat and to feed to their animals. They were not allowed to harvest and sell their crops. Secondly after seven of these seven year periods (7x7=49) were completed they were to proclaim the 50th year as a year of Jubilee.

The year of Jubilee was a special time, it was a year of liberty, not only for the land but also for the people. The land again was to remain idle, no planting, no harvesting. All slaves were to be set free, property reverted back to the original owners, families were reunited. God set these rules so that no one would have excessive debt and slaves would not be in bondage no longer than 49 years. It was also a time for the people of Israel to give thanks and honor God for allowing them to live and use the land. If the people had obeyed God everything would have been just fine, but the people of Israel became greedy and stubborn. There would be no celebration, they were about to get evicted.

God being a gracious and patient landlord, put up with Israel's disobedience and gave them chance after chance to follow the rules he had set forth. Finally God said enough is enough and removed the blessing and protection that he had provided the people of Israel. For hundreds of years they had won battle after battle, conquering all their enemies and reaping great riches, possessions and livestock. They were feared by all their enemies, because even their enemies could see that the hand of God protected the Israelites. With the removal of God's protection, Israel soon lost their position as a Sovereign Nation. Israel was conquered and destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon for the first time in 606 BC. The cities of Israel were laid waste and the people of Israel were taken captive, many as slaves. Never again would they be a Sovereign Nation, they existed in various forms of provinces in a succession of empires: Babylon, Media-Persia, Greece and Rome.

The people of Israel tried to regain their previous status and attempted many times to regroup and form their own ruling government, but the final blow came in 70 AD. The Roman legion under orders from Titus were dispatched to Jerusalem to put down the latest in a series of Israeli rebellions. Their orders were to destroy Israel as a nation and a distinct people. History tells us that more than a million Jews were killed, the Jewish Temple was completely destroyed. The survivors were scattered as slaves and were even forbidden to assemble into groups of more than three under penalty of death. The Jews were scattered around the Asian and European continents, humiliated and despised where ever they went. They remained homeless, known as the wandering Jews, they kept to themselves. Where ever they went they faced persecution, but they never forgot the promise that God had made to Abraham. They knew sometime in the future, God would fulfill his promise and they would once again, overcome all odds and become that Great Nation that God had intended them to be. A nation that would be a blessing to the whole world.

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