What role does Israel play in the end times? Do the events in Israel indicate the end times are close?
Israel plays a prominent role in the end times predictions of the Bible. Several factors reveal that Israel will endure into the end times and play a primary part in God's plan for the final days.
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First, the seven-year Tribulation described in Revelation includes a time when Israel already exists as a nation and builds a future temple. For nearly 1,900 years, Israel did not exist as a nation, yet in 1948 the modern nation of Israel was born in a single day. This event marks a significant precursor to God's plans for the future.
Second, a Jewish temple will exist in Jerusalem by the midpoint of the seven-year Tribulation period. This temple does not exist today, yet the Temple Institute in Jerusalem has plans that could make the construction of this facility take place quickly once given access to the location that is currently under Muslim control.
Third, there will be 144,000 Jews who serve as evangelists during the last days according to Revelation 7. In addition, Two Witnesses will preach in Jerusalem for the first half of the Tribulation, die, then resurrect into the sky (Revelation 11). This action will be followed by a massive earthquake in Jerusalem and people will flee the city for the mountains to be protected by God.
Fourth, Ezekiel 38 predicts a war of nations that will align and attack Israel in the last days. God Himself will provide a supernatural victory for Israel. Though many debate when this event will take place, it appears to occur sometime after the Rapture and prior to the midpoint of the Tribulation.
Finally, the people of God will war against the nations at the end of the Tribulation at Armageddon. God will win and Jesus is predicted to return and reign for 1,000 years from His throne in Jerusalem. After this time a final rebellion will take place followed by a new heavens, new earth, and a new heavenly city called the New Jerusalem.
Does what is happening in Israel today mean the end times are approaching? In some ways, the answer is yes. The rise of the modern state of Israel is an important part of biblical prophecy. The preparations for a new Jewish temple reflect what Scripture predicts will take place. The growing alliance of nations in the Middle East that oppose Israel also point toward the Bible's predictions.
However, one must be careful to not interpret each individual headline as a fulfillment of prophecy. Jesus could return at the Rapture at any moment, regardless of what is taking place in Israel today. Jesus told His followers, "See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains" (Matthew 24:4-8). We need not fear, but the fact that many predicted events appear so near fulfillment indicates the importance of faithfully following Jesus now—and sharing the Gospel with others—while there is still opportunity.
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Truth about the End Times