Not all that long ago, readers of the magazine Israel My Glory were introduced to a different nomenclature, “A New Middle East.” The changes taking place in that part of the world are truly remarkable. By no means the least of these are several recent historic peace agreements with the surrounding Arab nations. These follow earlier ones established with Egypt and Jordan.
The ultimate answer to the querying title of this article is simply, the same old, same old. As the title itself suggests, what is going on today in the Middle East has ever and always been going on in that part of the world.
The cosmic battle between God and Satan, between good and evil, began and continues to this day in the New Middle East as it does throughout all of God’s creation.
It was in the Garden of Eden that God, speaking directly to Satan, said in the hearing of our first parents, guilty of disobedience: “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her Seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise His heel” (Gen. 3:15).
Referring to a yet earlier time and event, God said with reference to Satan: “You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, until iniquity was found in you… Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; You corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor; I cast you to the ground” (Eze. 28:15-17).
We refer to these events as the Fall, that of mankind, recounted in Genesis 3, preceded by that of Satan, referred to in Ezekiel 28.
Though Satan remains powerful as “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2) and “the god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4), his ultimate fall is certain (Rev. 12:9). Even now, he is a defeated enemy according to Luke 10:17-19—“The seventy returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.’ And He said to them, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I give you authority to trample on serpents, scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you’” (Luke 10:17-19).
The battle between the descendants of Isaac and those of Ishmael began long ago and continues today in the New Middle East.
Briefly put, we see the beginnings of today’s Middle Eastern conflict as far back as the book of Genesis where we read, “And God said unto Abraham, “Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of Ishmael… for in Isaac shall thy seed be called” (Gen. 21:12). Again, “I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession” (Gen. 17:8). And again, “To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates” (Gen. 15:18). God’s promise or covenant is an everlasting one, still in force today.
As for modern-day Israel, the descendants of Abraham through Isaac, the chosen seed, then through Jacob renamed Israel (Gen. 32:28) God is keeping His promise, carrying out His plan.
On December 11, 1917, General Edmund Allenby, commander of Britain’s “Egyptian Expeditionary Force” and a born-again believer, entered Jerusalem on foot, ending four-hundred years (1517-1917) of rule by the Ottoman Turks and 1800+ years of Jewish exile from their Promised Land. Jerusalem was liberated and soon to be in British hands. This followed on the heels of the Balfour Declaration of the previous month, a letter from the British Foreign Secretary favoring the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine.
Five years later, in 1922, the British Mandate issued by the League of Nations established British administration over the territories of Palestine and Transjordan, both of which had been conceded by the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I. This mandate was in force from September 29, 1923 to May 15, 1948 at which time Israel declared herself a nation, reborn after nearly 2000 years.
These were by no means isolated, disconnected incidents as one can learn from reading Jonathan Cahn’s “The Oracle.”1 In his book he convincingly argues for the case that many of these events can be seen as happening in Jewish Jubilee years. These are special, recurring 50-year time periods when a man’s possessions and heritage lands would be returned to him (see Lev. 25-27).
Fifty years before the Balfour Declaration, in 1867, well-known author, Mark Twain, toured Europe and the Holy Land together with a group of American travelers. The excursion was billed as a Holy Land expedition. Twain’s travelogue, “Innocents Abroad,” was published two years later, becoming the best-selling of all his works during his lifetime. It sometimes appeared with the subtitle “The New Pilgrim’s Progress.” The book focused readers’ attention on the Middle East and Palestine as never before.
The year 1867 also witnessed the very first archaeological excavation in the City of David and the discovery of Warren’s Shaft, a vertical column descending to the Gihon Spring. This was the main source of water for Bronze/Iron Age Jerusalem, and the selfsame shaft up which David’s valiant men climbed to take the city from the Jebusites according to 1 Chronicles 11:4-7. The shaft connects to Hezekiah’s Tunnel, another of the must-see sights when visiting Israel. Both testify to the accuracy of the biblical account of Israel’s existence and history.
Fifty years after the Balfour Declaration would bring us to the Six Day War of 1967, another Jubilee year. Land acquisitions as the result of this and the Yom Kippur War of 1973 are nothing more nor less than the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham and his seed. While the Palestinians have never and perhaps never will accept a peace plan with Israel, one thing is certain—Satan never will! And now we’ve come full circle. It is he who animates, and ever has since creation, all those who oppose God’s plans including those for His Chosen People in the New Middle East.
By the way, President Donald Trump issued a statement acknowledging the obvious, that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. That was on December 6, 2017, another Jubilee year! Coincidental? One would hardly think so! Two years later, the United States embassy was, at long last, relocated to Jerusalem the Golden.
To those who may object to the apparent injustices committed by Israel against the Palestinians, and these may well exist, what about the “injustices” for which God Himself called and approved in Old Testament times? If today we are prone to criticize Israel, what would we have said if we had been alive back then? We might do well to heed the warning expressed by Gamaliel, “If it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God” (Acts 5:39)
What ON EARTH is ever going on in the NEW Middle East?
God is sovereign! He is preparing and positioning Israel for her promised restoration. Satan, as ever, is doing his utmost to counter the divine work. As for you and me, instead of joining those who would “defund Israel” or otherwise oppose her, we must “pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Ps. 122:6,7). And what exactly is that peace for which we pray? Nothing less than Israel’s ultimate acceptance of Christ their Messiah as intimated by the words of our Lord: “And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, Saying, if thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes” (Luke 19:41–42).
1. Jonathan Cahn, The Oracle: The Jubilean Mysteries Unveiled. Frontline 2019.