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** Jerusalem and the ingathering of the nations
29 September 2023
Last week, we witnessed the annual spectacle of the United Nations General Assembly - a place where heads of states and their representatives meet in many different settings. It has become a market-place of political power and economic interests.
Iranian President Raisi used the UN platform to threaten to murder U.S. officials in revenge for the 2020 assassination of Qassem Soleimani, head of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Raisi taunted America over its powerlessness in the world, claiming that the hegemony of the West is “over”. He declared that the sanctions policy has “failed” and the Iranian nation has “won.” Stressing Iran’s commitment to regional cooperation, he stated that “any foreign (ie. western) interference in the region from the Caucusses to the Persia Gulf is not only not a part of the solution, it is the problem itself.”
In contrast, Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel stated that Israel is "at the cusp of an historic peace with Saudi Arabia. It will encourage a broader reconciliation between Judaism and Islam, between Jerusalem and Mecca, between the descendants of Isaac and the descendants of Ishmael."
It is interesting to note that this coming week also marks the 50^th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War of 1973 – a turning point in the history of the Middle East. According to Jonathan Spyer, it marked the end of Arab nationalism, and the start of Islamic revival that led to the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran.
Fifty years later, we are now seeing a fresh realignment of interests in the Middle East and more broadly. One aspect of this is the decline of the West in the region, and the alignment of nations like Saudi Arabia, Israel, and India against what they see as the increasing threat of Iran and China.
The nations are shaking, and increasingly Jerusalem is the centre of attention.
In this context, it is significant that this week the Jewish people celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. Commemorating the exodus of the Jewish people out of the slavery of Egypt, when they had to travel through the desert protected only by God, it also marks the harvest season, when the full harvest is brought in. Sukkot, or the feast of “Tabernacles”, thus speaks prophetically of the final restoration (harvest) of the Jewish people to the land and to the harvest from amongst the Gentile nations, which will be gathered by the Lord.
Those ingatherings, in turn, are deeply connected with Jerusalem, which becomes the focal point at this stage of history.
As the prophet Zechariah indicated, the shaking will lead to the nations attacking Jerusalem. Jerusalem is a stumbling block that the nations fall over. But some nations themselves will align themselves with God’s purposes and will celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. In Zechariah 15 we read:
“Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, and to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles.”
Let us pray for the peace of Jerusalem, the ingathering of Jews and Gentiles into God’s kingdom, and the speedy coming of the King who will judge the nations. The law of the Lord shall go forth from Jerusalem.
The Editorial Team - Israel & Christians Today
The moral bankruptcy of the world
According to Melanie Philips, “Raisi’s triumphalism at the U.N. is a result of the West’s surrender.
Iran has responded to Western appeasement of Iranian aggression by supplying drones to Russia to use against Ukraine, has barred around a third of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s most experienced inspectors from overseeing nuclear sites in the country and has ramped up terrorism against Israel from within the disputed territories. It has also stepped up its aggression against America.”
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The Yom Kippur War 1979 changed the history of the Middle East
According to journalist and analyst Jonathan Spyer, the Yom Kippur War 1973 was a watershed in the Middle East. It was the point at which the climactic battle between Jewish Zionism and Arab nationalism took place, “with the Jewish side emerging as the clear victor. The proof of the victory is that the conventional armies of the Arab states never came back again. On a more complex level, Arab nationalism entered a phase of terminal decline at this point, to be replaced by a number of other projects – most importantly, local state patriotisms, and movements of Islamic revival.”
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A Greeting | The Book of RUTH with Johannes Gerloff #24
Today we not infrequently greet thoughtlessly, asking far-reaching questions without seriously expecting an answer. In Scripture, greetings have a far-reaching meaning, especially when they are handed down verbatim.
** SCRIPTURE FOR THE WEEK:
A day of the Lord is coming, Jerusalem, when your possessions will be plundered and divided up within your very walls.
^2 I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city.^3 Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights on a day of battle. ^4 On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives,east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south.
^12 This is the plague with which the Lord will strike all the nations that fought against Jerusalem: Their flesh will rot while they are still standing on their feet, their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongues will rot in their mouths. ^13 On that day people will be stricken by the Lord with great panic. They will seize each other by the hand and attack one another.^14 Judah too will fight at Jerusalem. The wealth of all the surrounding nations will be collected—great quantities of gold and silver and clothing.^15 A similar plague will strike the horses and mules, the camels and donkeys, and all the animals in those camps.
^16 Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, and to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles. ^17 If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, they will have no rain. ^18 If the Egyptian people do not go up and take part, they will have no rain. The Lord^ will bring on them the plague he inflicts on the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles.^19 This will be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles.
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