Category Archives: Foreign

The Bible, Jerusalem, Damascus, and Our Times!

 
In the world of Biblical archaeology, two very different groups are discerned, along with those who occupy a “middle”. One group is composed of those who accept that the Bible is a very reliable book concerning the historical aspects, worthy to be used in constructing history along with archaeological data. And then there are those who are called “Minimalists”, who believe the Bible offers little to nothing when it comes to valid historical facts. “Israel” as a national entity is also problematical in that no real history of its ancient origins is possible.
 
In this minimalist view, King David and King Solomon are mythological and most of the Biblical writings are “historicized fiction”, written mainly during the Persian Empire, hundreds of years after the time spans implied in the Bible’s own chronology! Prophecies are somehow also inventions used for political purposes and have no real futuristic impact!
 
But reality can make for a rude awakening and minimalists have their day coming. Eventually enough opposing facts can pile up to make an intellectual life miserable—and they are slowly piling up! Eventually minimalists will have to  make a choice–live in their artificially created world in which the Bible is just fiction or somehow “give in” to Truth! I know what I would advise them!
 
Just lately I read a quote in the magazine Biblical Archaeology Review where an archaeologist was bemoaning the state of affairs due to the minimalists insistence on the unreliability of the Bible. He quotes one of those minimalists which sums up their attitude:
 
“There is no more ‘ancient Israel’. History no longer has room for it.”
 
One of the areas which will eventually challenge the minimalists is the area of biblical prophecy! To those who accept the Bible’s rendition of things, prophecy comes in two varieties: fulfilled or yet to be fulfilled! Those yet to be fulfilled are the ones which has occupied my attention lately and are such that if paid attention to by the minimalists, should allow them the chance to reconsider their assumptions of the Bible and its contexts! Instead of being composed of statements useful only for the political times in the Persian Empire, prophecy was messages of hope which sustained the Israelites for hundreds of years as they suffered much distress! Only when the Bible’s historicity is accepted does this make sense.
 
Many prophetic statement s are extremely detailed and so their fulfillment or lack thereof can be ascertained with a reasonable amount of confidence. Consider the prophetic statement of Ezekiel 37 and the vision of the valley of dry bones, which represented Israel ceasing as a nation. That vision showed the dry bones being put back together as Israel would become an independent nation once again. Once the Babylonian captivity took place, Israel was always under the authority of someone else!
 
But … Ezekiel 37:9-12
 
9 Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord God; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.
10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army.
11 Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts.
12 Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.
 
These prophetic statements were messages of hope, a future hope which eventually occurred! That prophecy was fulfilled in 1948 when Israel effectively became an independent national entity again—over 2500 years later!  Just the fact that an “Israel” was even possible is miraculous!
 
With that accomplishment, Israel was now on the world stage and turmoil and reactions has followed the nation ever since! A number of wars and constant terrorism has made Israel a constant news story! With the establishment of its Statehood, a number of other prophecies now came into focus, those which had not been fulfilled but has really become central to world events. It involves the City of Jerusalem.
 
Jerusalem is not a major city in the sense of scale and massive infrastructure. It does not have a large population, less than a million, but it represents a major part of the world, religious-wise that is. The three major religions of this world lay claim to Jerusalem, namely, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Therein lies its distinctiveness. Israel wants to make it their eternal capital but the Muslims want part of it for their own religious reasons. Hence a constant clash between these groups and since Muslims make up over a billion people, this clash is a major thing! When Israel recovered all of Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War, the stakes became of global interest!
 
Where does Jerusalem fit in with prophecy? In a future time, Zechariah 12,  Jerusalem will be the flash point of history with many nations involved. It will find itself besieged all around by those who want to destroy it. Though that prophecy is still future, the fact that Jerusalem has become the center of attention worldwide the way it has, lends credibility to these scriptures in Zechariah and it doesn’t take much imagination, with antisemitism on the rise and organizations like the UN condemning Israel seemingly on a routine basis, to see the world decide to act in its own interests and try to take over Jerusalem. Some of the verses in Zechariah say it like this:
 
12 The burden of the word of the Lord for Israel, saith the Lord, which stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and formeth the spirit of man within him.
2 Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem.
3 And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.
 
Jerusalem a “cup of trembling”—that is definitely playing out right now in our headlines! Could it be that the US is the main thing preventing this from being fulfilled completely right now?
 
Finally Damascus, Syria is also relevant in Biblical prophecy and one should be aware of its ongoing spotlight in today’s world. While these prophetic statements have yet to be fulfilled, the fact these ancient players are still on the stage today should make one reconsider a lot of things about the Bible. The one main prophetic statement regarding Damascus is in Isaiah 17:1
 
“The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap.”
 
Though Damascus has been attacked and conquered before, never has it experienced the kind of devastation implied in this verse. Hence a future fulfillment. We may not know when this will occur, but given the context of today’s world and its machinations involving nuclear capability, terrorism, territorial expansion, Israel and antisemitism, it again doesn’t take much imagination to see how Damascus could be absolutely obliterated as a city!
 
Much more can be said on these topics and prophecy of the Bible can be a full-time endeavor, but the fact remains that the Bible, if allowed to be taken in its plain sense, is still a reliable guide for today! The minimalists have it wrong and if they could just open their eyes then they could possibly see the richness the Bible has to offer, not only about for the Past but also the Present and Future!
Jerusalem
Damascus

The Seven

The Seven
 
It shouldn’t be strange to think that many terrorists of our modern day, the homegrown variety, could in a sense be “made” by influential writings and propaganda presented on the Internet! It may have happened in the past in a very remarkable and devastating way—by a short book!
 
Evidently a short story by the Russian writer Leonid Andreyev may have been very influential in the start of World War One, as it inspired a group of revolutionaries to assassinate Archduke Ferdinand in June 1914. Andreyev’s story was called “The Seven Who Were Hanged” (1908), and chronicles two peasants and five revolutionaries as they reconcile their final days awaiting their fate of capital punishment by hanging!
 
I read that story this afternoon and while the human angst and existential reckoning the characters went through was insightful and made one reflect on the appropriateness of capital punishment, the glorifying of revolutionary activity as an action worth committing was not something which ran through my mind! Researching the influence of this book I was surprised to learn something quite dramatic, historically anyhow! According to one researcher, the leader of the group who planned and carried out the Archduke’s assassination, was influenced by Andreyev’s story just in that revolutionary way—and the plot of the actual  assassination actually mimicked Andreyev’s story story in many ways!
 
An interesting take on the major event of the 20th century, WW1, which became a precursor of many  decades of totalitarian nightmare and human destruction! If the Archbishop hadn’t been assassinated, would WW1 have started? If the book “The Seven Who Were Hanged” never came into the hands of the revolutionary leader who planned the assassination, and so never would have conceived of his plot, would the Archbishop have been killed by another group–and events still play out anyway? Impossible to know!
 
And…could a single book have really been the impetus for such a major action all the way back in 1914? Considering the facts of today, I would say that yes it could! 
 
And as others involved in stopping modern terrorism have noted, this homegrown kind of terrorism born and nourished by things such as the Internet, is nearly impossible to stop. One problem is the fact that one never knows what influence a story or book or speech, etc can have on the psyche of any individual…and never really will!
 
We have always lived in a world in which there are two sides to everything! In the sphere of technology, such as the Internet and everything else, the two sides are composed by a good use and a bad use—they can’t be separated! The difference today is one of degree, so many individuals can be influenced simultaneously for good and bad from the Internet! This doesn’t condemn the Internet but it is something which comes side by side with its good uses! 
 
More things change, the more they stay the same–still true!

Fragebogen and Trump’s Registry

Fragebogen and Trump’s Registry
 
Trump’s call for a Muslim registry for those who want to come to this country caused an outrage among many individuals and groups. The thought of being more thorough in asking questions and verifying ideology and loyalties is not new though.
 
Recently, just after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, a program was instituted by Bush called the “National Security Entry-Exit Registration System”, or NSEERS for short.  People from certain countries had to register and  “undergo more thorough interrogation and be fingerprinted”.  It was never declared illegal and was phased out after 9 years.
 
Another historical precedent occurred after WWII, when the United States basically occupied Germany from 1945-1949. One of the efforts attempted by the Americans was a process called “denazification”, and this was geared towards German citizens! A good article about this was written by Cora Sol Goldstein in “The Journal of Military History” and one of the things she mentioned was the role of a document called the “Fragebogen”. This document was a large questionnaire with about 131 items, autobiographical in nature, which each citizen had to fill out. These questionnaires was geared towards helping to root out all the influence the nazi ideology had exerted upon the German citizenry! The nazi regime had penetrated much of society and some way had to be found to “cleanse” the society from the continual presence of its thinking.
 
 
While these programs had varying degrees of success and criticisms, the fact remains that a written means of determining possible ideological and violent influences is one tool among many and should not be dismissed out of hand. Keeping track of visitors to this country should not be a surprising action, especially when there are so many threats of harm to our homeland.
 
So a Trump registry is not automatic discrimination but rather is another way of keeping America safe from those who would come here to do us harm. There are even those who have said that the registry idea is not discriminatory and would pass Constitutional muster, we don’t hear much about those. If I was a visitor to another country and I had to register, then why not? These countries don’t know me, there are no roots that can be pointed to in order to determine loyalty from me. Why should there be blind trust? There shouldn’t be!
 
Banning people because of a religion may be the main roadblock to a deeper acceptance of a registry, but in today’s world everything has to be considered and reconsidered. We can always nuance these things to better highlight those who would be dangerous, but to simply “trust” is ludicrous!
 
So the conclusion is that we should do all that is necessary and legal to especially “de-Islamic Terrorism-ify” those coming here!

 

Der berühmte Fragebogen für die Entnazifizierung, benutzt von 1946-48.

Gladiators Redux

The “gladiatorial” spirit of Rome revived!

Gladiator sports having been exterminated around 300-500 A.D. due to the Christian influence over the Roman Empire, it is a bit surprising that a reality show of this sort would be made—but then again, maybe not!

Society has demonstrated a growing “lust” of sorts for more and more extreme entertainment. People thrown into an “arena” in which there are no rules but survive–and with a big prize on the line–surely this is the kind of recipe even ancient Rome may have enjoyed.

Do we really need an entertainment enterprise which stipulates the following:
‘Everything is allowed. Fighting, alcohol, murder, rape, smoking, anything.’ 
This is part of its promo!

Aren’t we supposed to be discouraging those kinds of things? Last time I checked we were! Has society changed this much? I think it has!

We better start looking in a mirror and take a long look and get a hold of ourselves—there’s darkness coming!

There may be a “freedom” to do this kind of thing—but freedom is a finicky object—sometimes chains come with it!

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4036244/Everything-allowed-Fighting-alcohol-murder-rape-Horrifying-boast-organiser-Hunger-Games-style-reality-30-people-left-Siberian-wilderness.html

 

Barbed Wire and a Doughboy

Barbed Wire and a Doughboy
 
Barbed wire seems like a relatively insignificant instrument or tool to be interesting but its history is tied in with many important events in history. Many books have been written about barbed wire and the wire itself has entered into the consciousness of society in a number of ways, maybe unnoticed by many, but still evident! The Art world especially has utilized this simple, multi-stranded woven wire, with a sharp barb inserted at regular intervals, in many of its works. These artistic works reflect some of the negative effects of the wire due to its uses in history.
paul-nashPaul Nash “Wire”
 
 
I have read three books highlighting barbed wire: “Barbed Wire” by Reviel Netz; “The Devil’s Rope” by Alan Krell; and “The Wire That Fenced the West” by Henry D. and Francis T. McCallum. These books chronicle the history of barbed wire from its invention in 1874 on the American Great Plains to our present day, in which this wire is still used around the world, on ranches, as borders surrounding jails and prisons, and some businesses as well. Although the permutations of design include such things as razor wire and coiled varieties, basically this is still the barbed wire lineage.
devils-ropewire-fenced-the-westnetz
 
 
A simple instrument and device and yet it has been seared into humanity’s conscience as a larger than life object because of its instrumentality in many human actions—some innocuous (maybe not from the  animal’s viewpoint) and others nefarious (because of its use against Man) and still others neutral (probably a debatable category )!
 
 
Barbed wire was invented with the intention of controlling the movements of cattle. While cattle could be controlled fairly well, but not totally, and so an easier method had to be developed to take care of these shortcomings. Barbed wire was used to prevent cattle migration and it established a physical border boundary for the cows. Texas and Oklahoma were two states in which the prevention of movement from North to South was of paramount importance. Greener pastures is what these cows moved around for and it was a headache on ranchers to stop.Since it was difficult for ranchers to always keep track of their cattle, barbed wire fences did that for them.
 
hereford-calves-in-corner-of-barbed-wire-fence-by-cd-kirkland
 
It wasn’t long before the uses of barbed wire extended to other areas, in particular, in the control of humans! One particular use for this was in the Boer War of 1899, the war involving Great Britain and the lands called Transvaal and Orange Free State, lands eventually forming South Africa some years later. There were a number of military strategies involved here but one in particular involved barbed wire. The lands were wide open and vast, hard to control from Britain’s perspective. The Boers  knew the land and eventually fought the British forces in a guerrilla warfare mode, very difficult for the British soldiers to compete against. Eventually the British used barbed wire to systematically mark the land into grids and sections in which they could trap many of the Boers. Hundreds of miles of wire was used with various fortifications placed at strategic locations. These marked out “barbed” boundaries represented enough of a physical impediment to the Boers’ efforts that the British was able to counteract the guerrilla tactics and eventually won.
 
boer-war
A second important use of barbed wire occurred during WW1. As the war began, the Western Front was quickly stalemated with the prodigious amount of trenches each side had made for defense. Literally a boundary, nearly impossible to cross due to withering machine gun fire by each side against those who tried to engage the enemy in a charge. If a charge was tried and soldiers did make it to the other side, rows of barbed wire waited them which slowed their progress tremendously. Many casualties occurred from the wiry mesh and the images of brave soldiers dying, held up by wire, produced ghoulish remembrances through art and literature after the war. That area between the trenches was called “No Mans Land” where one estimate claims a million miles of barbed wire was used! 
barbed-wire-wwiaerial_view_loos-hulluch_trench_system_july_1917
 
 
Probably the most evil event of the 20th century was the Holocaust and the killing of millions of Jews in concentration camps. Their ability to do this was due in large part to control. The Germans were able to control large groups of people through the use of barbed wire enclosures. There are many pictures illustrating the Jews in these camps with the various configurations of barbed wire an obvious feature.
nazi-barbed-wire
 
 
How does a basic object become such an object of memory such that it plays a key role in poetry, fiction, and paintings? I don’t have an answer to that, but for me, when I see or read the phrase “barbed wire”, I think of WWI. Some years ago I read a book “The Great War and Modern Memory”, by Paul Fussell, voted one of the top 100 non-fiction books of the 20th century. It delivered an intellectual and emotional jolt which I still can sense today even though I read it many years ago. Through that important book and some others about WW1, “barbed wire” now always reminds me of that “Great War”.
 
 
Sometime after reading that book I examined a certain monument in one of our town’s cemetery, which was dedicated to the WW1 “doughboy”. A “doughboy” referred to some of the infantry soldiers from the US who fought in Europe. The monument has been there my whole life and I never noticed the details of it before Fussell’s book. The trench warfare landscape was one of mud, stumps of destroyed forests, and barbed wire. When I examined the monument more closely, I saw all those symbols represented at its base: mud, stumps, and barbed wire. That monument was made in the 1920’s and reflected the true sense of what it meant to fight under those conditions! 
img_6908
 
 
A simple thing—barbed wire! Or maybe it isn’t!

Coming Too Near Home!

Thomas Hood wrote a poem in 1848 called “The Lee Shore”. Considered by some to be the basis for Herman Melville’s chapter in Moby-Dick called “The Lee Shore”. There is a paradoxical phrase which occurs in this poem with a lot of layers of interpretation!

The poem is about a ship sailing for home. With favorable winds making the journey progressing satisfactorily, those same winds had become dangerous as the ship made its way closer to shore, the possibility of being driven onto rocks, etc. a strong possibility! So the winds turned from favorable to unfavorable!

The poem is a prayer to the elements that the winds now drive the ship, not to shore where possible shipwreck awaits upon rocks, but rather back out to sea until the ship can make a safer attempt to reach shore later under better circumstances!

The poem ends with these words:

Let broad leagues dissever\Him from yonder foam-\Oh, God! To think Man ever \Comes too near his home!

The word “dissever” means to separate and the exclamation at the end is the paradoxical part—-home is where one wants to arrive at, but in this circumstance that “nearness to home” brought too much danger!

One of my interpretations is looking at the word “home” as our afterlife. Coming “too near his home” refers to taking a risky chance regarding one’s actions which could too easily end in death! One of the things commensurate with youth is the idea of taking chances! We all have done it and looking back a feeling of fear may be associated with that memory as one realizes how close we came to a bad end!

One of the things about growing into adulthood is the wisdom of actions and how the responsibilities which comes with age necessitates that one looks at things differently! While life itself carries risk, wisdom tries to help one live life to minimize, in the least, unnecessary risk. Life events unavoidably will happen and there are times when risk of life becomes necessary and warranted, but then there are other times when the risk to life and limb is done out of a desire for thrills! Those latter kinds of risks is what maturity should teach us to avoid! Sometimes a healthy dose of “fear of consequences” is a wise voice to heed!

A few days ago the noted mountain base jumper, Uli Emanuele, died while performing a stunt while base jumping.

29 years old!

A couple years ago he was considered by many to have performed the most difficult of base jumps, having jumped off a mountain in a glide suit and then approached a rock formation with just a couple meters wide gap and successfully going through that—an “eye of the needle” kind of thing one commentator said.

Why wasn’t that enough! His life is now over! He challenged those favorable things which before had brought him to the point of securing his place as one of the all-time  daredevils—but he kept going and “came too near his home”! Some say he may have died doing what he loved and that he went out the way he wanted too, I say what a waste!

What other things could he have done in life in which his skills could have been so useful and I am thinking in the line of rescue scenarios. So much he could have contributed but that will never be!

He had a wisdom which could do great things gliding through the air, but he lacked the wisdom which comes with maturity—which is that sometimes it is time to quit taking unnecessary risks and instead direct one’s life  in  another direction. It is now too late for him to do that.

Wisdom and maturity—something to learn!

 

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/daredevil-basejumper-tragically-films-his-own-death-while-performing-high-altitude-stunt-1577060

image

 

image

Trump and Walls

Walls

The Great Wall was built over many centuries B.C. by different rulers. It is actually a combination of a number of walls. The purpose of this wall was mainly for defense from northern and western hordes as they tried to raid and invade the lands. The wall is a testament to the desire of security as it stretched many thousands of miles and much of it is still intact!

Hadrian’s Wall was built by Emperor Hadrian beginning around 122 A.D. It was constructed in Britain and basically separated the south from the north. One Roman said the reason was to separate the Romans from barbarians! (The PC crowd would have loved that!)

The Berlin Wall was a wall that split Berlin into an eastern part and western part. It was built by the East Germans, who were part of the communist East Bloc of nations. it effectively kept West Berlin from East Berlin and all of East Germany. The East Germans gave as the reason for this the desire to build a socialist state free from fascist influence of the west! The real reason was to stop East Berliners from escaping into West Berlin for a better life!

Israelis have recently come under fire for their “security fence” they felt compelled to build around the West Bank to better control terrorism. It seems to be working!

Trump wants to build a wall to protect us from illegal aliens flooding across our southern borders! He is right and has history on his side!

It is not unusual for leaders with foresight to erect border barriers for the purpose of preventing certain groups from coming across uninvited. And while some may compare this to the Berlin Wall, reasonable people will see it as an example of China’s and Israel’s purpose.

We need to stop worrying about what a group of liberals, who really want this nation to be changed into something unrecognizable from ourfounding, declare. They are on the wrong side of history here regarding the wisdom of building walls!

image Great Wall of China

image Hadrian’s Wall

image Hadrian’s Wall map across Britain

image Berlin Wall

image Israel’s Security Fence

Blindness Prevails

Blindness prevails
Lets see:
1. Hillary, as Secretary of State, approves a uranium deal with Russia giving them control of 20% of our uranium assets.
2. Obama, in 2009, cancelled a plan with Poland and Czechslovakia to build an interceptor site and radar to protect from missiles fired at Europe. Why? Russia didn’t like the idea!!!
3. Russia invades Crimea and illegally annexes it—further eyes rest of Ukraine. What does Obama do? Nothing!
4. Hillary’s illegal server was surely hacked by major governments due to weak firewall protection. One of the major governments? Russia!
5. DNC gets hacked released emails affect the Convention and who is accused of doing it? Russia!
6. Hillary makes a mess of the so-called “reset” button photo-op as Secretary of State! Who was it with? Russia!
7. We have an FBI Director who bends over backwards and twists the law to allow Hillary to go free.
Now a former CIA acting director declares that Trump is an unwilling agent of Putim? Where was this “authority” on Russia when all the things mentioned above were taking place?
I hope Americans are informed enough to know that Trump is not the problem here—after all, when one looks at our track record under the Obama/Hillary regime, Trump definitely can’t do worse than this bunch!
And Trump has one thing going for him, he knows how to read people and understands negotiating things! Trump won’t be the weak excuse for a leader as Obama or Hillary are!
I would say to this former CIA acting director—take a vacation!!
http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/Morell-Trump-Putin/2016/08/07/id/742501/

Auschwitz and Dinur

Yeheil Dinur wrote under the psuedonym “Ka-Tzenik 135633”. He was a Holocaust survivor and wrote a number of novels about that period. He also testified in the Adolph Eichmann.
The novels are on my to-do list to read but I did come across one compelling statement by him:
“wherever there is humankind, there is Auschwitz”.
Is he condemning everyone? No! just that the human condition is such that if care is not taken, then atrocious behavior can ensue. As a Christian, that is understood as allowing sinful human nature to proceeed unchecked.
Put another way, removing ourselves far from the “conscience of morality” that He has provided us! Though we are “fallen”, such that everything about us is marred by the effects of sin, we do have capabilities to live somewhat orderly.
Thought for us: Is there an Auschwitz-type set of behaviors among us today?
I believe it is! Abortion!!!
The abortion industry (and that is what it is!) is a bedrock principle among Liberals, illustrated with many affirmative comments at their Democratic Convention. Look at what the Planned Parenthood videos exposed, and no, they have not been debunked as a fraudulent series!
Millions of Jews! Millions of babies!
Auschwitz?
Picture is him testifying at the Eichman trial!
 1389.9 Holocaust A

Iran (Persia) in the Bible

Iran (or Persia) is prominent in certain Bible verses pertaining to Bible prophecy. Present day Iran doesn’t encompass the entire geographic region it once did when it enjoyed its status as an “empire”, but it encompasses the main part of it. Iran of today also still enjoys the connection with its former empire days. It is not unreasonable that the references to Persia in the Bible pertains to Iran of today.

Iran has been one of the main topics in the news today because of the nuclear arms treaty negotiations with the USA.  Also, the objections over the deal by Israel and many people in the USA  has garnered much attention. Based on what side one is on, the deal is either the best thing to lead to a peaceful world which has come along in awhile, or, a potential precursor to WWIII,  with Israel being the primary focus.

With these tensions, it is only natural to those who consider themselves students of prophecy to try to situate this into the “end-times” perspective of the Bible. This is not unimportant since Persia is mentioned specifically in some important verses of the prophet Ezekiel, and the attack on Israel at some time in the future which this prophecy indicates.

Two other verses in the Bible are important when discussions of Iran and the future are discussed.

Isaiah 44:28-45:1 which says:

That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid. Thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut. KJV

cyrus                                                                                   Cyrus

Isaiah was a prophet the years approximately 740s – 698, 150-200 years or so before a ruler named Cyrus even arose. His prediction was amazing since an individual was named. Cyrus happened to be the first ruler of the Persian Empire which began when Cyrus  overcome the Babylonian empire in 550 B.C.. Most of the Israelites had already been deported to Babylon many years before. When Cyrus overcame Babylon, one of the things he did was to allow Israelites to go back to Jerusalem, their former capital, and rebuild the temple, eventually they would also be allowed to rebuild the city. This story is in the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah. The decree by Cyrus concerning the temple was a major historical event for Israel and God had used a gentile to make this major event possible, and that was also very unique.

All through the time of Persian empire, which lasted until Alexander the Great, Israel basically enjoyed good relations with Iran. The only  negative time was during the time of Esther, in which a man named Haman tried to have all the Jews killed, but Esther, with the help of her father Mordecai,  was able to intercede for the Jewish people with the king of Persia, who is thought to be Artaxerxes I (464 – 425 BC). The full story is in the Book of Esther. A continual Jewish presence has remained in Persia for centuries and even today, although a lot smaller, there are still Jews in Iran.

One of the things in todays news is the overt hostility between Israel and Iran. Israel considers Iran the supreme enemy of the Jewish State and Iran routinely calls for the destruction of Israel. An example :

http://dailycaller.com/2014/07/23/iran-supreme-leader-the-only-solution-for-crisis-is-israels-destruction/

There is a conundrum in this whole issue–how did the relationship become so bitter and so ultimate when there had been such a positive relationship? When modern history of the relationship between Israel and Iran is analyzed, there doesn’t seem to have been such animosity building up that we should now be witnessing the call of one nation publicly desiring the total destruction of the other.

In the 19th century when the Zionist movement was forming, Iran didn’t support it, but the Jews and Iran still had a basically good relationship. When partition took place and Israel finally became a State in 1948, Iran voted against the partition, but Iran still maintained a basically positive contact with the Jewish State.

Iran and Israel probably enjoyed its best relationship, even though now a State,  under the Shah of Iran, who ruled from 1941 until 1979 when the  Islamic Revolution overthrew him. That Islamic revolution ushered in the period when religious views drove much of the politics, and even then, through much of the 1980s, Israel and Iran still had a decent relationship and there is the fact that Israel didn’t consider Iran a threat through that time period.

So where did it begin to go wrong? It seems 1992 was a turning point. Israel in 1992 elected Yitzhak Rabin who felt that peace with its immediate neighbors would benefit Israel. The OSLO Accords was the beginning of the effort to make peace with many of the Arab states immediately surrounding Israel. Iran was not one of those “immediate” neighbors and so this left Iran on the edge of Israel’s radar as far as importance and hence created some animosity.

oslo                                                  Yitzhak Rabin,  Bill Clinton, Yasser Arafat

During all this time of Iran and Israel’s relationship, at least since the Zionist movement of the 19th century, many Iranian clerics and leaders were vocal about the Jewish people and maintained that Jewish people were a threat to Islam and Muslims in general. And especially when the Israeli State was formed, this only intensified the attitude among these clerics and leaders.This anti-Israel view now began to be taken more seriously in Iranian politics, and this was because of OSLO. Iran began  to back those anti-Israel sentiments with more political actions, primarily by hindering the Peace Process however it could and also with a military buildup, even nuclear. These things would, at least in Iran’s mind,  result in making them still an important factor in the Middle East, which they feared was being minimized by OSLO.

Benjamin Netanyahu was then elected Prime Minister in 1996 and he slowed down the Peace Process because he didn’t like the agreement. He had to honor it because of his predecessor but he also tried to work against it as well. He also wanted to cultivate a better  relationship with Iran which had suffered because of OSLO. While that did occur, the anti-Israel sentiment and military buildup attitude was now entrenched in Iranian thinking. A definite shift had taken place in their relationship.

106px-Benjamin_Netanyahu                                                                          Netanyahu in 1996

In spite of all these various things, Israel and Iran still had basic contact with each other all the way up to 2005.This is what makes today’s headlines and the animosity between the two countries seem so dramatic, it was such a fall!  At the same time Iran and the USA was going through its own evolution in their relationship and with George Bush’s “Axis of Evil” statement in 2002, which included Iran, the relationship between Iran and the USA began to sour. This is important because Israel and the USA would be eventually be linked as the two most dangerous enemies of Islam and Muslims.

2005 comes along and the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was vehemently against a Jewish State and made many critical and controversial statements regarding Israel. There was one quote about Israel being wiped off the map, which may have been a mistranslation, but even so, that quote, mistranslated or not, only helped to strengthen an already growing anti-Israel sentiment and relations Israel and Iran deteriorated quickly. Ahmadinejad seemed to have cultivated a climate of hatred towards the Jewish State for many years and made it inevitable that the two countries would have to clash.

iran quote

Hassan Rouhani, who has been President of Iran since 2013, has continued the critical stance towards Israel, and with the nuclear capability of Iran now becoming more of a reality, the relationship between Israel and Iran can’t get much worse apart from a war. I think a shift in this whole relationship, which now may be unfixable, occurred with Ahmadinejad’s election.

rouhani Hassan Rouhani

The anti-Israel sentiments seems to have metastasized and, given the Iranians desire for nuclear weapons and their progress towards those weapons, and, even though a nuclear arms deal may have been concluded with the USA, a physical collision between Israel and Iran seems inevitable. And that is what the Bible predicts!

Ezekiel is another prophet who prophesied from approximately 594-574 B.C.. Ezekiel 38-39 mentions many details about a future battle between Israel and a number of other peoples. Persia (or Iran) leads this group, implying they are the main group emphasized. This seems to make sense because Iran of today is blamed for contributing many resources to Israel’s neighbors for terrorist activities. Iran is also blamed for much of the instability of the Middle East! They seem to want a coalition of people to stand with them against Israel! The verses in Ezekiel 38 that mentions Persia is:

Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya are with them, all of them with shield and helmet; Gomer and all its troops; the house of Togarmah from the far north and all its troops—many people are with you. NIV

 

One of the things regarding Bible prophecy is that the fulfilment is guaranteed, how it gets there is left up to history. It is a little surprising how the history of the Israel and Iranian relationship has  reached such a plateau of hostility. But there are other verses in Exekiel 38 which seems to indicate that the national thinking of Iran and this group changes suddenly and so it had to occur at some point:

10 Thus saith the Lord God; It shall also come to pass, that at the same time shall things come into thy mind, and thou shalt think an evil thought:

11 And thou shalt say, I will go up to the land of unwalled villages; I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates,

12 To take a spoil, and to take a prey; to turn thine hand upon the desolate places that are now inhabited, and upon the people that are gathered out of the nations, which have gotten cattle and goods, that dwell in the midst of the land. KJV

These verses indicate the desire to attack Israel at some point and though that hasn’t happened yet, this political change which Iran and Israel has undergone in the last few years seem to be the kind of precursor which is needed before a war can be desired and attempted. The venom, which some in Iran have towards Israel, wouldn’t make it a surprise if an attack on Israel is attempted fairly soon.

In summary, Iran (Persia) had been a positive influence towards Israel for centuries. It is only lately that the relationship has really soured. This seems to be backed by the prophecies of Ezekiel which shows Iran has to becom a major enemy of Israel. Although these plans  of war will transpire, the result of that attempt will be catastrophic for Iran and its group. More on that later!