The political cauldron known as the Middle East continues to boil, with every week some new tension bubbling to the surface and alarming the entire world. It was around this time of the year in 1973 that an Israeli-Arab conflict burst out that also dragged the United States and Russia into a stressful showdown, with serious escalation only narrowly averted. Nearly 40 years later, the Middle East still embroils the world, and there is no shortage of matches to light the fire!
So what do you think? Are these just cultural and religious squabbles that flare up and die down, and we just have to contend with it like we always have, or are these Middle East conflicts heading to a showdown that threatens the whole world?
Will the Middle East blow up or blow over? The answer is … both. It’s going to get far worse—actually bringing the world to the edge of destruction—but then it will get better. How do we know?
Let’s go back to 1973. The war that erupted that year on Oct. 6 came to be known as either the Yom Kippur War or the Ramadan War. The Arab coalition launched a surprise attack on the highest holy day of the Jews, Yom Kippur, but it also came during the most important holy day season for the Muslims, Ramadan. Now the irony was not lost on a lot of people—here were highly religious groups hating and killing each other during their most hallowed times. It was just another in the string of sad testimonies in human history that we simply cannot find the way to peace.
Yom Kippur, though, is far more significant for the world than people realize. Most people think that only Jews observe this day, but don’t realize that some Christians do too. We know it as the Day of Atonement, and what it portends has meaning for all humans of all faiths.
In the Hebrew language of the Old Testament, yom means day, and kippur means “to cover or hide” or “expiation.” Expiation means the act of atoning for sin or wrongdoing, the act of delivering from sin or saving from evil. It is used in secondary ways, such as to make reconciliation, to pacify, to purge away, to forgive, to pardon.
This Day of Atonement identifies one of the major steps in God’s plan, whereby, after Jesus Christ returns to the earth, He will remove the root cause of our troubles, and open the way to initiate a real, workable peace process for not only the Middle East, but for all humanity.
We have proven that we have no hope of finding our way to reconciliation with one another, but hope does lie on the horizon! It can only be realized, though, through us first reconciling with God. This day shows how He will make that possible!
Yom Kippur is one of several biblical holy days that occur during this time of the year, and all of them are rich with meaning for understanding the future. You need to know what they are all about, and you can find out right here in the articles on this website.
In the meantime, the conflicts in the Middle East will continue to boil to the point of blowing up into worldwide war, and these will be terrifying times for all humanity. But through the true biblical understanding of what the Day of Atonement really means, we can have a vision of hope in this very troubled world!
For Life, Hope & Truth, I’m Clyde Kilough.