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Israel: A Cup of Trembling?

History will attest that nations are born in molten flame and forged on the anvil of adversity. The hotter the flame and the more severe the adversity, the stronger the nation. It is an eternal lesson, without variable, that the caterpillar must pass through the cocoon to become the butterfly. Alleviate the struggle of the butterfly to free itself from the cocoon, and it will surely die. Such is the law of God. No nation in history has been born amidst hotter flames nor forged through greater adversity than the sons of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

On May 14, 1948, the modern state of Israel emerged from out of the cocoon of the Holocaust and legacy of 6 million sons and daughters slaughtered under the Third Reich. After 1,900 years of worldwide dispersion, relentless persecution and indescribable affliction, a nation was reborn.

What nations normally experience over centuries, Israel has experienced – for good or bad, in greater intensity – within the amazingly short scope of [time].

It is as if time itself had been condensed to accommodate her meteoric and tumultuous ascendancy.

Land and people, nations and events, history and prophecy, technology and commitment, theology and longing all merged at a precise moment of history – not through blind chance, as the proud suggest, but through divine design, as the humble of spirit know.

Since Israel’s rebirth, she has fought five wars for national survival … though until recent years greatly outmanned and outgunned by her neighbors. She did so while, at the same time, absorbing more than 2.5 million of her scattered sons and daughters from among more than 100 nations of the world. So war-torn has been her brief history that someone, perhaps not altogether in humor, inquired, “Is Israel a nation which must maintain an army, or an army seeking to become a nation?”

Military preparedness dictates that Israel is one of the highest taxed nations in the world, and almost 50 percent of her gross national product goes for defense. Experts acknowledge that she ranks fourth in the world in military capability, behind the United States, the Soviet Union and Red China. This is an absolutely astounding statistic for a young nation with immense internal problems, a small population of … Jewish citizens and a land area that, by global standards, is both pathetically small and highly vulnerable …

During the past 19 centuries, and particularly the Second World War years, Jews went unresistingly and lamblike to their deaths. Those days are forever gone. Today the Jewish nation has become a lion committed to roar if necessary in the defense of her homeland.

It is tragically ironic that a people who detest war and value life as much as any people on the earth are forced to maintain great military prowess to survive …

What we are truly seeing is the beginning of the fulfillment of God’s words through the Prophet Zechariah: “For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle …” (Zech. 14:2). God, speaking emphatically, says that He himself will bring all nations against Jerusalem – He is sovereign in His universe, and none can stay His hand. But that does not alleviate men of their guilt or responsibility. God hardened Pharaoh’s heart so that he would not let Israel go from Egyptian bondage (Ex. 4:21; 7:3; 14:4). But Pharaoh was responsible for his actions and was punished.

Russia will one day launch an invasion against Israel initiated by divine sovereignty – but it is the same sovereign God who will destroy the Russian army on the mountains of Israel (Ezek. 39:1-5).

In similar manner, the nations of the world will one day rise up against Israel (Zech. 14:2). And the inspired penman speaks to this issue: “Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle” (Zech. 14:3).

God has revealed that as the end of the age approaches, He will make Jerusalem a “cup of trembling” to the nations (Zech. 12:2)! The metaphor suggests that the nations will become intoxicated over Jerusalem. They will stagger and stumble like a man who, having drunk deep from a cup of strong wine, is no longer in control of his faculties. Logic and reason have been dulled.

The spectrum of nation after nation aligning itself against the tiny state of Israel increases with every passing day. And who among honest and informed men can deny that their attitudes and actions resemble a man who, totally intoxicated, has taken leave of his senses. The unrealistic and unjustified attitude of the nations following Israel’s intrusion into Lebanon only serves to underscore that fact.

Such plotting will not succeed. For all such God has a second metaphor. And once again He speaks emphatically: “And in that day will I [myself] make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all peoples; all [the nations] that burden themselves with it [Jerusalem] shall be cut in pieces, though all the nations of the world be gathered together against it [Jerusalem]” (Zech. 12:3).By divine design, Jerusalem will be to the nations a burdensome stone. The imagery is taken from the ancient Israeli farmer. There, in a conspicuous and strategic location on the farm, is a large stone. Day after day he works around that stone as he farms his soil. It is burdensome to the farmer. One day, in frustration, he tries unsuccessfully to remove it, only to have the sharp stone cut and lacerate him in the process. That burdensome stone illustrates the effect that Jerusalem will have on the nations that oppose her. In their attempt to remove Israel, they will cut and lacerate themselves.

Those who truly understand God’s Word know that the world is heading for “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7), a seven-year period during which the nations will be aligned against the little state of Israel. They will be brought to the Middle East as if by magnetism in preparation for divine judgment and the end of what the Bible refers to as “the times of the Gentiles” (Lk. 21:24).

In the final analysis, the present Middle East crisis revolves around the Lord’s statement, “… salvation is of the Jews” (Jn. 4:22). And the spectacle we are beholding is a satanic attempt to use the unregenerate world to destroy Israel and thereby prevent the return of the Lord Jesus Christ to the earth to reign as King of kings and Lord of lords.

Jesus Christ is not a usurper to a throne to which He has no right. He is a descendant of Abraham (Gen. 22:18), of the tribe of Judah (Gen. 49:10), of the family of David (2 Sam. 7:8-16). For Him to return to the earth, as He most assuredly will, there must be a land called Israel, a capital called Jerusalem, citizens called Jews and a Davidic throne upon which to sit.

Satanically inspired men will not frustrate the omnipotent God. The light shineth in darkness, and the darkness could not put it out (Jn. 1:5).

God’s will shall be done on earth, as it is in Heaven.

This article, excerpted from Israel My Glory, was first printed in 1982 and is used with permission in Issue 11 of Prophecy in the News magazine.

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Marvin Rosenthal

Marvin J. Rosenthal (1935-2022) was the executive director of Zion's Hope, Winter Garden, Florida.

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