Menu

God's Plan for the Middle East

by Darris McNeelyDownload MP3

Transcript

[Darris] Terror, war and hatred. The news out of the Middle East today leaves us with little hope and very little good news.

Iraq and Syria are in flames. Iran continues to develop nuclear weapons, and ISIS extends its reach.

How do we understand these headlines? Who has the answers and solutions to these large problems? Is there hope? Where will the answers come from? And who will bring solutions to these unending problems?

Join us on Beyond Today as we learn about “God’s Plan for the Middle East.”

[Announcer] Join our host Darris McNeely and his guests, as they help you understand your future on Beyond Today !

[Darris] When I saw a recent news headline of a tragic terror attack in Jerusalem, I was shocked and saddened.  A three-year-old girl, an American citizen by birth, was killed when an Arab terrorist ran his car into a crowd of people at a Jerusalem metro train station. It was senseless. Even more senseless was the praise given by Hamas officials for this terrorist who was later shot by Israeli soldiers. Hamas is the radical Islamist group dedicated to fighting and eliminating the Jewish state. The tragic, senseless cycle of war, terrorism and violence continues.

The little girl had just come from the Western Wall in Jerusalem with her parents who took her there for her first look at the revered site—the remnant of the wall surrounding the Temple that once stood there. Her grandfather was quoted as saying, “they held her up to face the Temple Mount, and they told her this is the holy place, this is the Temple Mount…”

This story brings home the continuing tragedy of everyday life for many across the Middle East. Religious and ethnic division continues to sow the seed of a bitter harvest that disrupts the lives of hundreds of thousands—on all sides of the conflict.

Who will find a solution for this conflict and for the strife in this region? And where will the answers come from?

The answers will come from God’s Word, the Bible.

In today’s program, we are going to lay out a plan for hope for the Middle East. And we are going to explain in a way you may not have heard before, just how peace will come to this troubled region. There is one source of hope that gives a solution for the problems we see in today’s headlines. And that source is God’s Word, the Bible.

Here is what the Bible says, Jerusalem will one day look like this:

“Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, Each one with his staff in his hand because of great age. The streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets” (Zechariah 8:4-5 4 Thus said the LORD of hosts; There shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, and every man with his staff in his hand for very age. 5 And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof. ×).

This is a prophecy that promises a time when young and old will be safe while walking and playing in the streets of Jerusalem. We are not there yet. But imagine the time and contrast it with what it is like now, compare it to the story of the three-year-old little girl, murdered for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, she wasn’t safe in the streets, but one day, all little children will be safe in the streets.

You can go to Jerusalem today and see it as a busy vibrant city rich with history and diverse with  multiple nationalities living side by side. Jerusalem is an international city once called the center of the world, and it continues to be the center of world interest.

The State of Israel claims it as its capital. It is a center of three world faiths: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. You can walk safely in its streets as I have done. Yet you know, there is always present the tension that something could happen at any moment. You see armed Israeli soldiers everywhere and you also know that many citizens carry concealed weapons. There is security everywhere. Jerusalem is the only city I’ve been where to buy a hamburger at a fast food restaurant, I had to pass through a metal detector.

Jerusalem is also a city of contrasts. It is a place which holds the key to understanding much of the larger problem in the Middle East. One of these problems is the fate of the Palestinians—the displaced Arabs from the wars between Israel and its neighbors.

The creation of the State of Israel in 1948 displaced thousands of Arabs in the land. Those people fled to Jordan, Lebanon and Syria and for many years have lived in temporary settlements hoping one day to “return” to the home they know as Palestine. The nation of Jordan has the largest Palestinian settlement within the borders of its capital, Amman. The unresolved issue of the Palestinians is behind terror attacks and the battles that continue on. In spite of the creation of a Palestinian Authority, there has been no permanent solution to this critical humanitarian issue. No Israeli government nor any Arab nation has been able to create a just solution to this decades old problem at the heart of much of the ill-will and conflict. The result is gridlock, and an ongoing problem impacting the everyday life of men, women and children who walk the streets of its cities, towns and villages.

Let me illustrate with a personal observation. A few years ago I guided a tour of Americans to Jerusalem. We used a Jordanian tour company who supplied us with an Arab guide. While in Jerusalem, the guide left our group for a few hours one afternoon. When I asked him later where he had been he told me he had gone to visit his aged mother in the Old City of Jerusalem. He had been uprooted to Jordan in an earlier conflict and his mother remained in Jerusalem. He could not go back and she could not come to him. It was a divided family separated by politics and war.

On another trip to Jerusalem I had to take a public bus from Jerusalem back to the Jordan border. And when I boarded the bus in the early morning a friend and myself were the only western male riders. The rest were older Arab women who were going to Jordan to visit family who were refugees. A son of one of the mothers gave her a wad of money to take with her on the journey. People separated by conflict, forced to go through the stress of travel and crossing international borders to keep up the ties of family. It was a striking and a poignant scene.

This problem has been going on for decades. Again, we ask: where will a solution come from? Will diplomats from any nation be able to create a treaty that is just, that corrects past wrongs and ensures security for everyone—including the children and the adults in the streets? To date, no one has been able to secure that peace. Now we applaud any well-intentioned efforts by any nation to bring peace to this troubled land. The words “pray for the peace of Jerusalem” mean a great deal to us here on Beyond Today . But together, we, and you, have watched and hoped for a solution to the conflicts that wrack Jerusalem, Cairo, Baghdad, Fallujah and Damascus.

Here is what God’s Word says will bring the ultimate solution.

“Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘I am zealous for Zion with great zeal; With great fervor I am zealous for her.’ …Thus says the Lord:’I will return to Zion, And dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Jerusalem shall be called the City of Truth, The Mountain of the Lord of hosts, The Holy Mountain.’Behold, I will save My people from the land of the east And from the land of the west; I will bring them back, And they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. They shall be My people And I will be their God, In truth and righteousness’?” (Zechariah 8:2-3 2 Thus said the LORD of hosts; I was jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and I was jealous for her with great fury. 3 Thus said the LORD; I am returned to Zion, and will dwell in the middle of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and the mountain of the LORD of hosts the holy mountain. ×; Zechariah 8:7-8 7 Thus said the LORD of hosts; Behold, I will save my people from the east country, and from the west country; 8 And I will bring them, and they shall dwell in the middle of Jerusalem: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in truth and in righteousness. ×).

God’s plan for the problems of the Middle East begin and end in Jerusalem. Today, the focus of the Middle East conflict is spread to Iraq, Iran, Syria and Egypt. God’s focus though, is on a much bigger picture. He sees all sides—Jew and Christian and Muslim, Sunni and Shia, secular and religious. His interest—His love and compassion—is for everyone in the streets of the Middle East. And, as we will see in a moment, it is far beyond the streets of Jerusalem.

The road to the solutions Bible prophecy spells out will be a difficult one, we must pass through a time of great peril and trouble. Many other prophecies foretell events that will bring this age of human conflict in the Middle East to a close.

That’s why we have prepared a Bible study aid to help you understand what will come to pass: The Middle East in Bible Prophecy . It seems like nearly every day we hear troubling and upsetting news about events occurring in that critical region of the world.

To help you better understand the biblical and historical background of current Middle Eastern events and also the coming, genuine answers to the problems found there, be sure to order your personal, free copy of The Middle East in Bible Prophecy. Just call: 1-888-886-8632, or you can go online to BeyondToday.tv to download, read or order your free copy of The Middle East in Bible Prophecy.

There was another street scene in the Middle East that illustrates the depth of the problem of human government and rule in the region. You may remember it from the news.

It began on December 17, 2010 in a small, poor Tunisian village where a street vendor named Mohamed Bouazizi sparked an uprising that set in motion revolutions across the Middle East—what was called the “Arab Spring.”

Bouazizi refused to pay the seven dollar bribe demanded by the corrupt local government. Seven dollars is a days wage for such a merchant. And a petty government clerk also stole his scales and his fruit wagon. He was desperate. He sought a hearing from the town offices, but nobody paid attention to his pleas for justice. Finally, he stood in the street, poured paint thinner on his clothes and set himself on fire. The flames burned third degree burns over his flesh. Amazingly he survived and he was taken to the hospital where he survived for a few weeks before dying. But the story was not over there.

His family, his friends and supporters, they took to the street in protest against the corruption. Social media picked it up and the unrest spread to the capital of Tunis. Thousands of people were drawn into the unfolding drama that grew bigger each day. The streets swelled with thousands, and within 24 hours, what became known as the Jasmine Revolution began.

Protesters demanded economic, social and political reform. The autocratic leader of Tunisia, President Zini Ben Ali tried at first to ignore the unrest. When it grew, he sent in the army to restore order which led to beatings and deaths. Every effort the president made failed. Hundreds of thousands of people demanded that he step down. When the army finally turned against him, Ben Ali had only one option—to flee the country. On January 14, 2011 he and his wife fled to Saudi Arabia.

From this small Arab land the flame of revolution spread across the Middle East. Next to fall was the government of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt. Unrest in other Arab states followed and today the fires are still burning, even in Syria.  One man burning himself in a small village in Tunisia sparked a political and social turning in the Middle East to equal every other significant event of the last 100 years. This includes the collapse of the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I, the creation of the State of Israel in 1948 and the Iranian Islamic Revolution of 1979.  

The depth of desperation across the Arab world has been exposed by this and many other events. The rise of the Islamic terror state called ISIS is another symptom of failure across the Middle East at all levels. No religion, no government, no ideology in the modern history of the region has adequately addressed the economic needs, the political rage and failure and social despair of the people. Islam as a religion has hindered the modernization of the people under its influence. It has fostered corrupt governments. And it has spawned terror and fear that impacts the United States and other western nations. In time, events from that region will trigger larger movements that will drag the world’s nations into massive conflict in the region.

Let’s go back to God’s plan for the Middle East. The problems in today’s streets have a solution, even when it cannot be seen by those closely involved in the issues. The Bible not only gives us the ultimate picture of a transformed region through Christ’s return, it shows us keys that could improve the everyday lives of people today—if only the leaders would accept God’s way.

One of those keys has to be a mutual respect for each other. Arab must respect Jew and Jew must respect Arab. Frankly, you must cut through the centuries of religious confusion that overlays the region and look at the people—every tribe and race, and every ethnic group—look at them as God does. They are made in the image of God, and He looks upon them not by the divisions of culture or religion, but as all being made of one blood and therefore one family. The God of Abraham is the God of all nations and He is not a respecter of persons. The Israeli must look upon the Arab as a human worthy of respect and vice versa. The hate, the prejudice must be removed from the heart. God will do this when He sets His hand to bring reconciliation among the people.

God’s prophet, Isaiah, gives a prophecy telling of this coming time of mutual respect upon Jesus Christ’s return. It says this: “The Lord will be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians will know the Lord in that day…  In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria. In that day Israel will be one of three with Egypt and Assyria—a blessing in the midst of the land, whom the Lord of hosts shall bless, saying, ‘Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance’?” (Isaiah 19:21-25 21 And the LORD shall be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians shall know the LORD in that day, and shall do sacrifice and oblation; yes, they shall vow a vow to the LORD, and perform it. 22 And the LORD shall smite Egypt: he shall smite and heal it: and they shall return even to the LORD, and he shall be entreated of them, and shall heal them. 23 In that day shall there be a highway out of Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian shall come into Egypt, and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians shall serve with the Assyrians. 24 In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, even a blessing in the middle of the land: 25 Whom the LORD of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my inheritance. ×).

God looks on Egypt, Assyria and Israel as His people. All of these nations should look upon each other with the same respect and love that God does. God plans to bring together these nations in an agreement that will bring peace to the streets. Three-year-old children will not be in fear of being run down by a driver who uses his car as a weapon. Young street vendors will be allowed to do business without threats from corrupt government.

It says, Israel will be a “blessing in the midst of the land.” Let’s think about that and look at the situation on the ground today. There is another key to understanding God’s plan for the Middle East here.

I mentioned earlier, the formation of the State of Israel in 1948, that it was one of four turning points in the Middle East in the past 100 years. Israel has fought three major wars and several smaller conflicts to retain its place as a sovereign state. Israel is the target of the state-sponsored terrorism and it must maintain continual vigilance to protect its citizens. Iran vows to push the Jews into the sea. Terrorist groups, like Hamas, write into their governing documents their avowed intent to destroy the Jewish state.

When Israel goes to extreme measures of war to protect its borders and people from rocket attacks from enemies on its north and on its south borders, they are accused in the court of world opinion of aggression and genocide. Israel is called the “little Satan” while America is called the “great Satan.” And yet, God says in the age to come Israel will be “a blessing in the land.”

Could it just be the State of Israel today is a “blessing in the land?” It is the only country in the Middle East that comes close to offering the human freedoms that we in the western developed nations cherish. It is a country founded by refugees from political oppression and genocidal attempts. Its culture is closer to the Judeo-Christian culture of the west. Many of Israel’s values, policies and culture have fostered an environment for freedom, economic prosperity and peace for its Jewish and its Arab citizens. This is controversial to say. So be it. Would you rather live in Israel or Saudi Arabia?

The State of Israel is the forward position for the United States, Canada, Great Britain in the world’s most volatile region. If Israel goes down, God help the rest of those and other English-speaking nations. Israel is a marker placed in the Middle East by the God of Abraham as a sign and promise of His enduring faithfulness to all nations and peoples who bless and honor the example and memory of that patriarch.

God said to Abraham, “I will bless them that bless you and curse those who curse you” (Genesis 12:3And I will bless them that bless you, and curse him that curses you: and in you shall all families of the earth be blessed.×). That promise stands today in this example. It is a key to understanding God’s plan for the Middle East. If any Arab state would take this seriously it would reap a blessing today.

The State of Israel is maligned in the Arab world as the “little Satan.” Israel has had to fight three major wars and countless conflicts to maintain its status as a nation. Terrorist groups based in Lebanon and Gaza have sent rockets into Israel attempting to destabilize the state. Iran has threatened to push Israel into the sea and if it obtains a nuclear weapon, it will pose another serious threat to Israel’s existence.

What the Arab states, and most of the rest of the world do not understand, is the reason the State of Israel exists today. That there is a Jewish presence in the Middle East is a blessing, not a curse. The Jewish state’s existence sets up a prophetic event foretold by Jesus Christ in His Olivet Prophecy. Christ spoke of an abomination of desolation to be placed “in the holy place” in Jerusalem (Matthew 24:15When you therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoever reads, let him understand:)×). Whatever final form this event takes, it can only be accomplished with the presence of a remnant of ancient Israel controlling Jerusalem. This was not possible before 1948 when Israel was established.

While this prophecy foretells an end time conflict centered on Jerusalem, we cannot overlook the importance to mankind that God is guiding history according to His divine purpose and His plan. The events in the Middle East with ISIS, a threat of a nuclear Iran and terrorism exported to western nations is indeed unsettling when you focus on it. Statesmen work for solutions they sincerely think and hope will bring about lasting peace. But to date, no treaty, no conference has accomplished this goal.

So where does this leave you? What is the future of your world? You can understand why we have these problems and you can see from your Bible where the solutions will come. We have an offer to help.

Please request your free Bible study aid, The Middle East in Bible Prophecy . You will then have a very helpful tool that puts into perspective the ongoing struggle in the Middle East and what will happen there. You need to know how it will affect you.

We’ll also send you a free subscription to The Good News magazine if you’re not already a subscriber. In each issue of The Good News , you will find articles to help you better understand our troubled world in the light of the Bible.

To obtain your subscription and to order The Middle East in Bible Prophecy please call: 1-888-886-8632. That’s 1-888-886-8632 or go online at BeyondToday.tv . Or, write to us at the address that is shown on your screen throughout the program.

Thanks to the generous support of members of the United Church of God and from viewers like you, we provide all of our literature absolutely free of charge. So, be sure to call us now, toll free at: 1-888-886-8632. You can also read The Middle East in Bible Prophecy and The Good News magazine online at BeyondToday.tv . And, we welcome you to partner with us in spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God to others.

I’m joined now by my fellow Beyond Today hosts, Gary Petty and Steve Myers.

You know, I mentioned one of the keys to a solution in the Middle East is mutual respect between the different groups. Why is that so difficult?

[Gary] You know Darris I think, especially in the United States, we don’t have a context for a lot of things that happen in the world. We look at what is happening in the Middle East—this is almost a 4,000 year old conflict, and when it goes back clear to the time of Abraham. And these people are related to each other and they have been fighting for a long, long time.

[Steve] Yeah in fact, one of the things that comes to mind is probably American’s version, at a different level, with the Hatfield and McCoys. You know this is an ongoing thing where they have learned to hate each other, and they have grown up in that very culture. And, in some ways, for reasons that we should be able to understand—because they have totally different religions. There are two different religions and then you add Christianity on top of that, which none of those things are going to be ultimately the ones that win out. Because even Christianity doesn’t have it right when it comes to what the Bible really has to say. And so it is going to take mutual respect in coming to see the ultimate reality that Christ is going to bring.

[Darris] It’s also going to take a bit of admission to being in error.

[Steve] Absolutely, repentance and looking to the truth of the Bible and God’s true way is definitely part of the solution.

[Darris] Pray for the peace of Jerusalem—how important is that phrase?

[Gary] The word pray… The problem is, we have one group of people who say, God gave this land to me. And another group of people who say, God gave this land to me. And then Christians jump in and they are involved in this whole mix. And the thing is, the only answer we have is from God and all human efforts for all these years, another Camp David Accord—nothing is going to solve this. What solves this is God. We have to pray for His intervening in the situation to solve the problem.

[Darris] What’s forgotten is that God owns the land. It’s not any one particular groups.

[Gary] That’s Who owns it. That’s right.

[Steve] Absolutely, and it’s also interesting, it’s not a physical solution that we are looking for. We are not just praying for the peace of Jerusalem right now, today, that hopefully everything could work out and everybody would get along.

[Darris] But we wish that would happen.

[Steve] Yeah we wish that would happen. And wouldn’t that be wonderful and ideally we should, but it’s going to take supernatural intervention by Jesus Christ to force that to happen. And of course, the long term situation is Jerusalem becomes Christ’s headquarters. It becomes His city—the city of God, ultimately. And so there is a bigger picture we don’t want to miss either.

[Darris] What exactly then is that plan, if can we sum it up?

[Gary] You talked about Jesus Christ. It’s very interesting, neither the Muslims or the Jews expect the Jesus of the New Testament to be the Christ that comes to solve the problem.

[Darris] Right.

[Gary] So God’s plan is that He sends Christ back to this earth. Jerusalem is His headquarters. And for Him to bring peace to the whole world, He starts by getting these cousins to get along.  

[Darris] Well there is another wonderful passage from Isaiah we didn’t read and that is that all nations will come up to Jerusalem to be taught the way of God (Isaiah 2:1-3 1 The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. 2 And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. 3 And many people shall go and say, Come you, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. ×). And even nations that today don’t acknowledge that God.

[Gary] God speed that day.

[Darris] God speed that day and let us all pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Remember our free offers today: The Middle East in Bible Prophecy and The Good Ne ws magazine. You can order them today by calling: 1-888-886-8632 or you can go online to BeyondToday.tv .

Also, while visiting our BeyondToday.tv website we invite you to watch BT Daily . These are short daily videos on important Bible topics and breaking news. So join us throughout the week on the Web for BT Daily and get additional analysis on prophecy, the Bible and God’s plan for humanity. And, you can watch Beyond Today and BT Daily anytime on YouTube, or on our Roku Channel.

And, the United Church of God, the sponsor of Beyond Toda y, has hundreds of Sabbath-keeping congregations meeting each Saturday across the United States and around the world. Go to BeyondToday.tv —click on the “Contact” tab to find a congregation nearest you . Then, call one of our knowledgeable and caring pastors to share your story with them.

So what does this mean for you? Right now, in your life? Maybe you’re thinking that the Middle East is far away, and it doesn’t affect your life at all. But it does, and it will. The instability in the Middle East affects everyone; it affects how governments make decisions; it determines who they align themselves with; and the spread of extremist ideology is quickly crossing borders from the Middle East to other areas. God’s plan for peace in the Middle East—and the whole world—is spectacular, but difficult times will continue before this happens.

This is why understanding the truth about the future of the Middle East is so important. You can have peace of mind now. You do not need to fear what may be coming. You don’t need to fear what might be happening in your own neighborhood, your country, or even in faraway places, right now.

To have that peace of you mind, you need to understand the mercy and the kindness and the love of God available now! You need to implement that love into your life today. And to do it, you can understand and you must understand who God is through Bible study, and therefore develop a deep relationship with Him and your Savior, Jesus Christ through prayer, fasting, and obeying His commands.

God has a purpose in history and this present chaotic moment is not the final chapter. Conflict in the Middle East will end. Peace will come to the people of the region. But not from efforts of human government.

Finally, if you are not able to watch our program each week at this time, please set your DVR to record it for later viewing.

Thanks for joining us today. Don’t forget our free offers and be sure to tell your family and friends about us. Tune in again next week, at this same time, for another edition of Beyond Today and join us in praying, “Thy Kingdom come.” For Beyond Today I’m Darris McNeely—Thanks for watching.

[Announcer] For the free literature offered on today’s program, go online to BeyondToday.tv . Please join us again next week on Beyond Today !

© 1995-2015 United Church of God - Canada

Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited. All correspondence and questions should be sent to info@ucg.org. Send inquiries regarding the operation of this Web site to webmaster@ucg.org.

Home
About
Program Archive
Station Listing
Free Literature
Contact