At four in the afternoon, local time, May 14, 1948, David Ben-Gurion proudly pulled himself up to his full height in the crowded Tel Aviv Museum and read these fateful words:
"It is the self-evident right of the Jewish people to be a nation as all other nations, its own sovereign State. Accordingly, we meet in solemn assembly today. Thus, by virtue of the natural and historic right of the Jewish people and the Resolution of the General Assembly of the United Nations, we hereby proclaim the establishment of the Jewish state in Palestine to be called the State of Israel."
According to biblical prophecy, Israel rebirth as a nation sets in motion the rest of the end times' prophecies. Israel's national revival was a vital prop that had to be set onstage before the final act in the drama of man's history could unfold. Thus, the headliner has taken the stage: Israel in her historic homeland.
However, in October 1973, during Yom Kippur (the holiest day of the year for the Jews), Syria and Egypt simultaneously attacked Israel from opposite ends of the country. The majority of the Israelis, including the regular army personnel, were in their synagogues or resting quietly at home.
Communication networks had been silent all day in respect of the holy day. Suddenly, sirens wailed in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Radios immediately came alive with emergency code numbers for the nation's military troops. The call also went out to the people in the reserves to activate and defend themselves.
The Syrians and Egyptians had launched what was intended to be the war of annihilation. The Syrians attacked the Golan Heights with 1,200 tanks in an initial assault over a twenty-mile area. (When Hitler made his major invasion of the Soviet Union in World War II, he used 1,000 tanks over a 200-mile perimeter.) In the Sinai, Egypt attacked with 3,000 tanks and 1,000 pieces of major artillery. It was intended to be the complete destruction of the nation of Israel, and the Arab powers almost achieved their goal. Were it not for miracles greater than those that took place during the 1967 Six Day War miracles as great as those in Bible days Israel would not be a nation today.
For a moment, World War III was in the offing. We came close to seeing the end in 1973. But God had other purposes; He brought the war to a halt.
Looking back, the Israelis feel that they made a mistake in halting their advance. They were robbed of a full and decisive victory over the Arabs. They could have fired on Damascus with their tanks, forcing the city to surrender. Israeli Army General Ariel Sharon was pleading for permission to move against Cairo while he had the momentum going with him, and the Egyptian army was trapped and helpless. But he was stopped by U.S. pressure and the Jews were kept from a total victory. Today, the Israelis feel that they're right back where they started.
Again in 1982 it was apparent that the Soviet Union was planning to aid an attack on Israel. Many Israeli military officers believe that the move by the Israeli Army into southern Lebanon in June thwarted a planned fall invasion. As the Israeli Army moved north in their Peace for Galilee operation, they were amazed at the vastness of the store of weapons they discovered. Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin declared that even though Israeli Intelligence is one of the best in the world and knew that weapons were being stored in southern Lebanon, the amount of weapons captured was ten times greater than had been expected. It took over three months to transfer these weapons back to Israel, using a score of huge truck-and-trailer rigs operating twenty-four hours a day.
Israel captured 400 new T-62 tanks, the plans for the proposed invasion, and enough weapons to equip three army divisions. The only place to find enough trained personnel to use such a large store of weapons would have been the Soviet Union.
It is very interesting to notice the Israelis' change of attitude since the 1973 war. The Israelis used to have what was called the Masada complex, the belief that suicide is preferable to slavery.
When the Roman general Silvanus was making his final assault against the elevated city of Masada in 72 AD, the 960 inhabitants saw that a tremendous ramp had been built toward the rear of their fortress. They knew that in the morning the Romans would attack and they would not be able to hold off the assault. Ben Eleazar called the people in the synagogue and announced that they would either see their wives ravaged before their eyes, or they could take the honorable way and commit mass suicide. The people decided on suicide rather than slavery.
The next morning the Romans broke into the city of Masada. To their horror they discovered that the city's inhabitants were all dead, with the exception of one old lady and a few children who had hidden in a cave. It was an empty victory for Rome.
Until just recently, Jewish cadets were taken to Masada for their graduation. The leaders would recount the story of Masada and then the whole group declared together, "Masada shall not fall again." In other words, they too feel that suicide is preferable to slavery. They will fight until they die.
However, the Masada complex is being replaced in Israel by a new attitude called the Samson complex. When he knew it was the end, Samson had a little boy lead him to the pillars that were the main supports of the temple of his Philistine captors. Then with all his strength, and as the Spirit of the Lord came upon him, he pulled the pillars together so that 3,000 Philistines were crushed along with him (Judges 16:26-30). Today some Israeli leaders say that if they have to go, they will take the world with them. They feel that the world has let them down, and with good reason.
In the Yom Kippur War, after ten days of fighting, the Israelis almost ran out of ammunition. The United States could not help them because Germany, England, Italy, and France would not let U.S. supply planes land and refuel on their soil. Finally after ten days, Portugal opened up a base on the Azores for refueling. U.S. planes were soon landing nose-to-tail at the Ben Gurion airport, re-supplying the Israeli Army just in time to keep them ahead in the war.
The Israelis are planning to go all-out in the next war. They have declared that they will not stop until every arm lifted against them has been destroyed. Saudi Arabia has been allocating one billion dollars annually to the Arab states for the next conflict. The Israelis feel Saudi Arabia should not go unpunished. It is the Israelis' full intention that the next war will remove any chance for enemy advances. Their sole goal is a decisive victory.
What will such a decisive commitment bring? When Israel begins to exercise the advantage in the next conflict you can be sure that the Russians will try to stop them by force. We will then be at the scene of the final countdown that God described in Ezekiel 38 and 39. Russia's invasion of Israel will trigger a sequence of events during the final seven years: the emergence of the ten-nation European power, the rise of the Antichrist, the great tribulation during the last half of the seven years, and then the coming of Jesus Christ with His Church in power and glory! Finally, the world will see the establishment of God's kingdom bringing in everlasting righteousness.
Chuck Smith is the senior pastor at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, Bible teacher on The Word for Today radio program, and the author of several books.