Last Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave an impassioned and eloquent speech before the United Nations General Assembly. In it he highlighted the continuing threat of Iranian nuclear weapons, quoting from the words of newly elected Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and casting doubt on the “moderate” credentials of the reforming president:
His predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was a “wolf in wolf’s clothing,” while Mr. Rouhani is “a wolf in sheep’s clothing, a wolf who thinks he can pull the … wool over the eyes of the international community.”
Mr. Netanyahu forcefully charged the international community not to be deceived by the smiles and conciliatory gestures of the new Iranian leader. “Ladies and gentlemen, I wish I could believe Rohani, but I don’t because facts are stubborn things, and the facts are that Iran’s savage record flatly contradicts Rohani’s soothing rhetoric,” declared the leader of the Jewish state.
Of great interest, and not unnoticed by political and religious commentators, was the fact that Mr. Netanyahu quoted from and alluded to the Bible! He shrewdly included a reference to Cyrus, the ancient sixth-century king of Persia, a man more enlightened than today’s fundamentalist leaders, who was the instrument used of God to grant freedom to the Jews after a long, 70-year period of captivity under the Babylonians.
Mr. Netanyahu ended his speech with a quotation from a Hebrew prophet, Amos. Stating, “In our time the Biblical prophecies are being realized,” he quoted Amos 9:14-15: “‘They shall build the waste cities and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and drink wine from them; they shall also make gardens and eat fruit from them. I will plant them in their land, and no longer shall they be pulled up from the land I have given them,’ says the LORD your God.”
It was a wonderful quote and quite exceptional. A national leader quoting Scripture in front of the United Nations General Assembly!
In a sense, however, it’s not so unusual. Since the late 1940s, Zionist leaders have often found inspiration in these and other prophecies that speak of the restoration of Israel. But are those prophecies being fulfilled now, in our time, or do they await a future fulfillment?
Let’s go back to that same prophecy and find out. Earlier in the same passage, we read that God “will raise up the tabernacle [dynasty] of David, which has fallen down, and repair its damages … and rebuild it as in the days of old [the time of king David]” (verse 11). None of this has yet been fulfilled. The Davidic dynasty has yet to be restored over Israel, and the territorial extent of the modern Jewish state doesn’t really resemble the scope of the 12-tribed nation under King David. Check it on a map sometime, and you will see that at the end of King David’s reign, the nation was huge!
But this will yet take place. A time is coming when King David will be resurrected back to life and will reign over the restored nation in truth and in righteousness. As God spoke through another prophet, Ezekiel, “David My servant shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd; they shall also walk in My judgments and observe My statutes, and do them. Then they shall dwell in the land that I have given to Jacob My servant, where your fathers dwelt; and they shall dwell there, they, their children, and their children’s children, forever; and My servant David shall be their prince forever. … My tabernacle also shall be with them; indeed I will be their God, and they shall be My people” (Ezekiel 37:24-27).
That time is coming. It didn’t begin in the 20th century. It’s yet future, but it will bring a time of peace and tranquility—not only for the Jewish people, but for the other nations descended from Jacob and, more important, for the whole world under the rule of Jesus Christ. We look forward to that day!
For Life, Hope & Truth, I’m Ralph Levy.