“I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling!”
History will attest that nations are born in molten flame and forged on the anvil of adversity. The hotter the flame and the more severe the adversity, the stronger the nation. It is an eternal lesson, without variable, that the caterpillar must pass through the cocoon to become the butterfly. Alleviate the struggle of the butterfly to free itself from the cocoon, and it will surely die. Such is the law of God. No nation in history has been born amidst hotter flames nor forged through greater adversity than the sons of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
On May 14, 1948 the modern state of Israel emerged from out of the cocoon of the Holocaust and legacy of six million sons and daughters slaughtered under the Third Reich. After nineteen hundred years of worldwide dispersion, relentless persecution and indescribable affliction, a nation was reborn.
What nations normally experience over centuries, Israel has experienced – for good or bad, in greater intensity – within the amazingly short scope of thirty-four years.
It is as if time itself had been condensed to accommodate her meteoric and tumultuous ascendancy.
Land and people, nations and events, history and prophecy, technology and commitment, theology and longing all merged at a precise moment of history – not through blind chance, as the proud suggest, but through divine design, as the humble of spirit know.
Since Israel’s rebirth, she has fought five wars for national survival in her thirty-four years, though until recent years greatly outmanned and outgunned by her neighbors. She did so while, at the same time, absorbing more than two and one-half million of her scattered sons and daughters from among more than one hundred nations of the world. So war torn has been her brief history that someone, perhaps not altogether in humor, inquired, “Is Israel a nation which must maintain an army, or an army seeking to become a nation?”
Military preparedness dictates that Israel is one of the highest taxed nations in the world, and almost 50% of her gross national product goes for defense. Experts acknowledge that she ranks fourth in the world in military capability, behind the United States, the Soviet Union and Red China. This is an absolutely astounding statistic for a young nation with immense internal problems, a small population of 3.2 million Jewish citizens and a land area that, by global standards, is both pathetically small and highly vulnerable.
Today, Israel possesses more than thirty-four hundred tanks – more than France, Italy and West Germany combined – and has another nine hundred Russian tanks which she captured from the Arabs. Her pilots possess unique dedication, unsurpassed training and more combat experience than any pilots in the world. Their achievements are unexcelled in the annals of aviation history.
During the past nineteen centuries, and particularly the Second World War years, Jews went unresistingly and lamblike to their deaths. Those days are forever gone. Today the Jewish nation has become a lion committed to roar if necessary in the defense of her homeland.
It is tragically ironic that a people who detest war and value life as much as any people on the earth are forced to maintain great military prowess to survive. That military capability was evidenced once again when Israel chose to enter Lebanon to defeat the PLO and rid the Bekaa Valley of Russian-made Syrian missile sites. It was not an easy decision for Israel to go to war. The predictable loss of life and property on both sides is contrary to all that Israel stands for. Israel would not have made a decision to fight unless the threat to her people became intolerable and all other alternatives to remove the threat were exhausted.
The media coverage was, in general, shockingly inaccurate, blatantly anti-Israel, and totally irresponsible.
When the Israeli army first moved into Beirut, world headlines blared with the claim, “10,000 killed . . . 600,000 homeless.” So amazingly inflated were the figures that the total claimed to have been killed or homeless was greater than the entire population of Southern Lebanon. And even more astounding, the source for the figure was the Palestinian Red Crescent, whose president is Yasser Arafat’s brother – the media swallowed a PLO propaganda lie of unbelievable magnitude and broadcasted it as an authentic estimate. The damage done was irreparable.
Nor did the press report that Arafat was using the United Nations Relief and Works Administration office in Sidon as his personal headquarters, and that in the halls prominently displayed beneath his own picture was a large swastika!
Night after night, Americans were “treated” to pictures of Arafat, the “humanitarian,” holding homeless and helpless children.
And once again, in the aftermath of the indescribably tragic massacre of Palestinian Muslims in the Sabra and Shatila camps in Beirut, much of the press, in its desire to condemn Israel, misrepresented the facts. Consider the statement in a featured article in Time magazine, September 27, 1982, page 20: “But no one could have anticipated that before the week was over, the Israeli peacekeeping exercise in West Beirut would lead, whether by complicity or carelessness or outright incompetence, to the massacre of hundreds of men, women and children in two Palestinian refugee camps that the Israelis were supposedly guarding.” There is not the slightest evidence from any source that Israel’s entrance into Beirut “led” to the massacre. Israel’s part in the massacre was inexcusable but indirect. It consisted of soldiers exercising poor judgment in permitting Lebanese Christian troops into the camps to ferret out the remaining terrorists and then not responding immediately when word of the massacre was sounded. That notwithstanding, their presence probably diminished the extent of the blood bath. To suggest that Israel’s presence led to the massacre is an unforgivable distortion of the facts fed to the American public by Time magazine. And is it not strange that, when from 1975 through 1982 as many as 100,000 Lebanese were slain as a result of the PLO’s presence, the press said relatively little? But when Israel was indirectly linked to the massacre of 300 to 500 Palestinians, it dominated the world press.
What are some of the true facts about Arafat’s PLO henchmen?
In 1972 the PLO invaded Munich’s Olympic Village and slaughtered eleven unarmed Israeli athletes.
In 1973 an arm of the PLO murdered the U. S. ambassador to the Sudan along with his deputy.
In 1974 the PLO seized an Israeli schoolhouse, held more than one hundred pupils captive and murdered twenty.
In 1978 the PLO waylaid a Tel Aviv bus and massacred thirty-three civilians.
The PLO has hijacked the airliners of at least eight world airlines.
The PLO aided, trained and applauded every anti-American force on earth from North Vietnam to Libya, Cuba, Nicaragua and El Salvador.
In the 1970’s the PLO planned and executed more than 1,500 terrorist attacks across Israel’s border.
Driven out of Jordan in 1970 by King Hussein in what became known as “Black September” (note that this was Arab against Arab), they were helped into Lebanon by Syria. There they quickly acted as a catalyst to start a civil war between Christian and Muslim Lebanese. Once in Lebanon, the PLO operated a “state within a state” – confiscating hospitals and homes, forcing young people into the militias, closing schools, commandeering licenses and passports, raping, murdering and terrorizing an entire nation – and the world, for pragmatic political reasons, remained silent.
Israel reluctantly moved against PLO-occupied areas in Southern Lebanon to protect the lives of her citizens in Northern Israel from relentless attacks launched from PLO bases and strongholds in Southern Lebanon which the United Nations’ peace-keeping force was to have prevented. She took this initiative after her repeated calls to the international community for effective action against PLO terrorism went unheeded. Israel had restrained herself while more than one thousand civilians were murdered and 4,250 were wounded by terrorist actions emanating from Lebanon over the years. One can only wonder how much restraint America would have exhibited had the attacks been launched against her citizens from terrorist bases in Canada or Mexico and with a government impotent to stop them.
Israel’s action was taken in full accordance with international law, in the exercise of the inherent right of self-defense, one of the fundamental rights of sovereign states, reaffirmed in Article 51 of the United Nations’ Charter. All governments have the natural and legal responsibility for their territorial integrity and for the safety of their children.
War has civilian casualties, which is probably its worst crime. But it was never, never a policy of Israel to disregard civilians and shell indiscriminately. The Israeli Defense Force is a very efficient army. Yes, there is the destruction of war, but there was not an indiscriminate, “scorched-earth” destruction . . . instead, a pinpointed, calculated and efficient attack on terrorist positions. And had the western world through public pressure not restrained Israel, the cancer could doubtless have been cut out quicker and with much better long-term results for Lebanon and the free world.
It was the PLO who intentionally stored their arms and ammunition in civilian homes, churches, mosques, schools and hospitals. It was the PLO who used the civilians as hostages and shields. It was the PLO who killed many of their hostages before retreating. It was the PLO who placed their artillery, tanks and rocket launchers next to or on top of civilian homes, schools, hospitals, and the such. They knew that Israel would be reluctant to fire upon them. It was the PLO who put the civilians in danger.
When the dust settles – when history is written about these tragic times – the books will say that Israel’s intrusion into Lebanon was totally justified. They will record that tragic civilian deaths occurred both during and after the conflict, as they do in all wars, but that in no previously fought war by any nation was more care taken to assure that civilian life would be protected.
From an international perspective, Israel’s operation into Lebanon
. . . dealt a crippling blow to international terrorism.
. . . graphically demonstrated the superiority of America’s weapons systems.
. . . significantly reduced Soviet influence and power in the Middle East.
. . . exposed the myth of Arab support for the PLO for just what it was – a myth.
. . . freed Lebanon from the hated presence of the PLO and returned to the Lebanese people the right to govern themselves.
. . . provided to America, for examination and evaluation, the most advanced and sophisticated aircraft and weaponry supplied by Russia to Syria and the PLO.
In short, the state of Israel, the only true and reliable ally of the United States in the Middle East, the only country in the Middle East impervious to the spread of communism, accomplished in a few months what all the diplomatic, economic and political efforts of the United States and her allies had been unable to achieve.
And for her trouble she has been treated to what can only be termed “obscene” condemnation from an unregenerate world that has prostituted itself. They have set one standard for the world and another for the state of Israel.
Whatever men may say to the contrary, the press has been influenced by the petro dollars to insure more petro dollars.
The American administration has clearly turned from total support of Israel to tactics that could one day cause her downfall.
Fundamentally, our government has decided that the better way to keep Russian influence out of the Middle East and the oil flowing is to court the friendship of so-called moderate Arab nations. To do this, Israel is being pressured to make concessions which jeopardize her security. Morality, decency, honor – these are being sacrificed on the altar of political expediency. What our leaders do not understand is that to turn against Israel is to substitute God’s blessing for God’s judgment upon our beloved country.
In recent months we were “treated” to the spectacle of a kingly welcome for Yasser Arafat by the Pope and a number of Western European nations. The press was deafening by its silence. Few voices were raised in objection.
What we are truly seeing is the beginning of the fulfillment of God’s words through the Prophet Zechariah: “For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle . . .” (Zech. 14:2). God, speaking emphatically, says that He himself will bring all nations against Jerusalem – He is sovereign in His universe, and none can stay His hand. But that does not alleviate men of their guilt or responsibility. God hardened Pharaoh’s heart so that he would not let Israel go from Egyptian bondage (Ex. 4:21; 7:3; 14:4). But Pharaoh was responsible for his actions and was punished.
Russia will one day launch an invasion against Israel initiated by divine sovereignty – but it is the same sovereign God who will destroy the Russian army on the mountains of Israel (Ezek. 39:1-5).
In similar manner, the nations of the world will one day rise up against Israel (Zech. 14:2). And the inspired penman speaks to this issue: “Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle” (Zech. 14:3).
God has revealed that as the end of the age approaches, He will make Jerusalem a “cup of trembling” to the nations (Zech. 12:2)! The metaphor suggests that the nations will become intoxicated over Jerusalem. They will stagger and stumble like a man who, having drunk deep from a cup of strong wine, is no longer in control of his faculties. Logic and reason have been dulled.
The spectrum of nation after nation aligning itself against the tiny state of Israel increases with every passing day. And who among honest and informed men can deny that their attitudes and actions resemble a man who, totally intoxicated, has taken leave of his senses. The unrealistic and unjustified attitude of the nations following Israel’s intrusion into Lebanon only serves to underscore that fact.
Such plotting will not succeed. For all such God has a second metaphor. And once again He speaks emphatically: “And in that day will I [myself] make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all peoples; all [the nations] that burden themselves with it [Jerusalem] shall be cut in pieces, though all the nations of the world be gathered together against it [Jerusalem]” (Zech. 12:3).
By divine design, Jerusalem will be to the nations a burdensome stone. The imagery is taken from the ancient Israeli farmer. There, in a conspicuous and strategic location on the farm, is a large stone. Day after day he works around that stone as he farms his soil. It is burdensome to the farmer. One day, in frustration, he tries unsuccessfully to remove it, only to have the sharp stone cut and lacerate him in the process. That burdensome stone illustrates the effect that Jerusalem will have on the nations that oppose her. In their attempt to remove Israel, they will cut and lacerate themselves.
Those who truly understand God’s Word know that the world is heading for “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7), a seven-year period during which the nations will be aligned against the little state of Israel. They will be brought to the Middle East as if by magnetism in preparation for divine judgment and the end of what the Bible refers to as “the times of the Gentiles” (Lk. 21:24).
In the final analysis, the present Middle East crisis revolves around the Lord’s statement, “. . . salvation is of the Jews” (Jn. 4:22). And the spectacle we are beholding is a satanic attempt to use the unregenerate world to destroy Israel and thereby prevent the return of the Lord Jesus Christ to the earth to reign as King of kings and Lord of lords. Jesus Christ is not a usurper to a throne to which He has no right. He is a descendant of Abraham (Gen. 22:18), of the tribe of Judah (Gen. 49:10), of the family of David (2 Sam. 7:8-16). For Him to return to the earth, as He most assuredly will, there must be a land called Israel, a capital called Jerusalem, citizens called Jews and a Davidic throne upon which to sit.
Satanically inspired men will not frustrate the omnipotent God. The light shineth in darkness, and the darkness could not put it out (Jn. 1:5). God’s will shall be done on earth, as it is in Heaven.