Bible Prophecy Provides Evidence That God Exists For All To SEE



Masada - Symbol of Jewish Courage

Masada today is one of the Jewish people's greatest symbols. Israeli soldiers take an oath there: "Masada shall not fall again." Next to Jerusalem, it is the most popular destination of Jewish tourists visiting Israel. As a rabbi, I have even had occasion to conduct five Bar and Bat Mitzvah services there. It is strange that a place known only because 960 Jews committed suicide there in the first century C.E. should become a modern symbol of Jewish survival.

What is even stranger is that the Masada episode is not mentioned in the Talmud. Why did the rabbis choose to ignore the courageous stance and tragic fate of the last fighters in the Jewish rebellion against Rome?

After Rome destroyed Jerusalem and the Second Temple in 70, the Great Revolt ended-except for the surviving Zealots, who fled Jerusalem to the fortress of Masada, near the Dead Sea. There, they held out for three years. Anyone who has climbed the famous "snake path" to Masada can understand why the surrounding Roman troops had to content themselves with a siege. Masada is situated on top of an enormous, isolated rock: Anyone climbing it to attack the fortress would be an easy target. Yet the Jews, encamped in the fortress, could never feel secure; every morning, they awoke to see the Roman Tenth Legion hard at work, constructing battering rams and other weapons. If the 960 defenders of Masada hoped that the Romans eventually would consider this last Jewish beachhead too insignificant to bother conquering, they were to be disappointed. The Romans were well aware that the Zealots at Masada were the group that had started the Great Revolt; in fact, the Zealots had been in revolt against the Romans since the year 6. More than anything else, the length and bitterness of their uprising probably account for Rome's unwillingness to let Masada and its small group of defiant Jews alone.

Once it became apparent that the Tenth Legion's battering rams and catapults would soon succeed in breaching Masada's walls, Elazar ben Yair, the Zealots’ leader, decided that all the Jewish defenders should commit suicide.

According to Josephus, two women and five children managed to hide themselves during the mass suicide, and it was from one of these women that he heard an account of Elazar ben Yair's final speech. Josephus probably added some rhetorical flourishes of his own, but Elazar’s speech clearly was a masterful oration: "Since we long ago resolved,

"Elazar began, "never to be servants to the Romans, nor to any other than to God Himself, Who alone is the true and just Lord of mankind, the time is now come that obliges us to make that resolution true in practice.... We were the very first that revolted [against Rome], and we are the last that fight against them; and I cannot but esteem it as a favor that God has granted us, that it is still in our power to die bravely, and in a state of freedom."

Even at this late juncture, Elazar could not accept that the main reason the revolt had failed was because Rome's army was vastly superior. Instead, he dwelt on his belief that the Lord had turned against the Jewish people.

But this was not to be the End of the Jewish People as God had said that He would regather Israel in the Last Days and so 2000 years later this was miraculously fulfilled.

Israel A Nation Reborn

About the time the writing of the Bible was completed, the Jews and their land had been separated. Just as the prophets of God had warned, they were scattered throughout the nations.

That’s why you’ll find Abrahams, Isaacs and Jacobs in most telephone directories – they are  descendants of people who once lived in the land of Israel.  For nearly 2000 years the Jewish people, who remained distinct and different wherever they lived, had no land they could call “home”.  But that was about to change.  For the very prophets who had predicted their dispersion also foretold their regathering, and there was more to it than that.  The prophets said that the scattered Jewish people would return to their land so that their long-awaited Messiah could come to rescue them and to save the world.  That was something faithful Jews have been awaiting for generations – a Messiah or Saviour who would come to deliver them.  But he has to come to Israel at a time when there are Jews in Jerusalem if the prophecies are to be properly fulfilled.  The trouble was that for over 1900 years there was no Jewish nation to save and there were hardly any Jews living in or near Jerusalem.

No Jewish nation – no Messiah!

All Change!

Israel Prime Minister David ben Gurion May 1948Everything changed in 1947 when the United Nations voted to partition Palestine and to create Jewish and Arab states. In May 1948 Israel was declared an independent state.  David ben Gurion, the first Prime Minister, referred to the circumstances that had led up to the decision of the United Nations:

►     The Land of Israel, he said, was the birthplace of the Jewish people. Here their spiritual, religious and political identity was shaped.  Here they first attained to statehood, created cultural values of national and universal significance and gave to the world the eternal Book of Books.

►     Their history of dispersion, though, he said, they never ceased to pray and hope for their return to it and for the restoration of their political freedom.

►    Their attempts to resettle, the support they had already received, and now their acceptance by the United Nations among the nations of the world.

►    The catastrophe which had recently befallen them – the massacre of millions of Jews in Europe – which clearly demonstrated the urgency of solving the problem of Jewish homelessness; Then he made this statement:

►     I hereby declare the establishment of a Jewish state in the land of Israel to be known as the State of Israel … Israel will be open for Jewish immigration and for the ‘Ingathering of the Exiles’; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.

Israel at War

Politicians or army commanders were not surprised when war broke out as a result of the UN vote to partition Palestine.

The British, who had been mandated to look after the land from 1920 to 1948, could see it coming and they found it increasingly difficult to keep the peace between Jews and Arabs when they had a military force stationed there.  When they withdrew the balloon went up.

Indeed, the reason why David ben Gurion declared independence in the Library in Tel Aviv was because Jerusalem was already a battle ground.  The War of Independence had broken out and the infant state had to struggle to survive against Arab armies that were far better-equipped and trained.

But survive they did and although wars or military engagements were fought in 1956, 1967, 1973, 1983, 1987 (first intifada), 2000 (second intifada), 2006 and 2008/9, Israel is still a viable, financially stable and powerful nation.

Would you care to predict what the position will be in ten years time?  Will Israel still exist or will Iran have fired its threatened nuclear missiles and obliterated it?  Will the Palestinians have a state of their own, which includes Jerusalem, or part of the city?  Will a lasting peace have been established resulting in stability and prosperity for everyone?  Who can say?  Things change so unpredictably.  So how about predicting what the situation will be in 500 years time?  Humanly impossible!

Long-term predictions

Yet that is precisely what the prophets of God did over an even longer time span.  Take the prophet Jeremiah, who was writing over 600 years before the birth of Jesus Christ.  These are some of his inspired forecasts about the Jewish people:

“The LORD said, ‘Because they have forsaken my law which I set before them, and have not obeyed my voice, nor walked according to it, but they have walked according to the imagination of their own heart’ … therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel ... I will scatter them also among the Gentiles, whom neither they nor their fathers have known.  And I will send a sword after them until I have consumed them’” (Jeremiah 9:13-16).

This prophecy was fulfilled on two separate occasions: once a few years later and then over 650 years later, when the Jews were dispersed as a result of the Roman conquest of Jerusalem.  But that was not all.  Here’s Jeremiah again:

“I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries where I have driven them, and bring them back to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase. I will set up shepherds over them who will feed them; and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, nor shall they be lacking”, says the LORD. “Behold, the days are coming”, says the LORD, “that I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; a King shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell safely; now this is his name by which he will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS” (Jeremiah 23:3-6).

That’s just one of many of Jeremiah’s prophecies (check out 29:14; 31:8-10 and 32:37-41) which predict both a worldwide dispersion and a national regathering and Jeremiah is one of many prophets who make similar prophetic predictions. And if you thought 650 years foreknowledge was impressive, bear in mind that the regathering that God masterminded did not take place until about 2500 years after Jeremiah had made the prediction.

Coming King

You might have noticed, if you read Jeremiah’s words carefully that the Jewish people were to be regathered as part of God’s Plan for a better future, one that comes to its final stages. Look again, if you missed it:

►  God said He would regather His people out of “all countries” (Jews are to be found in almost all countries of the world);

►  He would bring them back to the land they once inhabited (they occupied the land now known as Israel for about 1400 years before they were evicted by the Romans);

►  Back in the land they would “be fruitful and increase” (Israel now has a Jewish population of 5.3 million people, more than any other country in the world); There are other developments to come:

►  They will be given leaders who make sure they will dwell safely, happily and at peace;

►  They will be given a King who is descended from their former monarch, King David (who ruled about 1000 BC);

►  The king will bring righteous judgement “in the earth”

►  He will be called “THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS”.

So everything that has happened so far is a lead-in to great things that are shortly to take place.  For now that the Jewish people are back in their ancient land, as predicted, the scene is set for the final drama to be fulfilled.  Surrounded by enemies, the prophets foretold that their long-awaited Messiah would then come to deliver  them.  The huge surprise that awaits them, however, is that the Messiah is none other than Jesus of Nazareth, who was rejected by their fathers nearly 2000 years ago.

Other Predictions

Look at other prophets to find out about wars in the last days and you will find detailed coverage of what is due to happen.

►  Zechariah speaks about all nations attacking Jerusalem and being partially successful (see Zechariah chapter 14), but he also explains that Israel will find that their deliverer is the one who was wounded:

“Then they will look on me whom they have pierced; they will mourn for him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for him as one grieves for a firstborn” (Zechariah 12:10).

►  Ezekiel's Prophecy of the Resurrection of the Jewish NationJoel predicted a swarming multitude coming against Israel and being judged by God: “I will also gather all nations, and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; and I will enter into judgment with them there on account of my people, my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations; they have also divided up my land” (Joel 3:2).

►  Ezekiel gives a dramatic portrayal of Israel’s national resurrection – seeing a huge pile of bones coming together, bone to bone, and then watching the skeletons grow muscle, flesh and skin to become “an exceedingly great army” (Ezekiel 37:10).

Then he describes how a confederacy of nations – whose ancient names are listed – comes against the mountains of Israel and is destroyed there (Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39).  For the regathered people are rescued by their newly-arrived King:

“Surely I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, wherever they have gone, and will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land … and one king shall be king over them all … Then they shall be my people, and I will be their God” (Ezekiel 37:21-23).

Prophetic Jigsaw

Piece by piece you can fit these prophecies together if you want to see the entire picture, though nobody can be entirely sure about the sequence of events.  Jesus once explained, when asked about the end of human rulership:

“Of that day and hour no one knows, no, not even the angels of heaven, but my Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matthew 24:36, 37).

And you will recall that when the flood came, in Noah’s day, hardly anybody was expecting it and it took the vast majority of people completely by surprise.

Be Prepared

The key thing to remember is that these pointers and indicators are given so that we can be ready for whatever comes, in the sure knowledge that the eventual outcome will be really good!

God is to establish a Kingdom on earth, ruled over by His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and if we want to share in the good times that are coming, we must do something about it now.

There’s not a moment to lose. None of us is good enough to get into that coming Kingdom because of what we have done.  We all need to be counted good enough by God because of what Jesus has done for us.

It was Jeremiah, in the prophecy we looked at earlier, who said that the Coming King will be called “THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS” (Jeremiah 23:6).  Only Jesus can make us right with God – and it is only the Bible that explains how we can get to be like that in God’s sight.


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