In the wake of an unexpected landslide victory, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran is defending the validity of the election and cracking down on protesters.
At the same time Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seems to have softened his position in response to pressure from Washington and has said he would accept a limited Palestinian State provided that it is demilitarized, has limited governing powers, comes with Palestinian recognition of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish State, and the right of Jewish people to live in the disputed territories.
The two events might seem unrelated except that Mr. Netanyahu’s concessions on the Palestinian issue come at a time when President Obama is pressuring Israel for a Palestinian State. Prime Minister Netanyahu on the other hand continues to seek Washington’s agreement that “Iran’s nuclear ambitions [are] “the greatest threat facing Israel, the Middle East, the world [and] the entire…human race.”
According to a Wall Street Journal article, Prime Minister Netanyahu has been making a case recently that American Policy in the Middle East should focus on Iran’s nuclear ambitions rather than Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians.
When we look at the ancient links between the Middle East and the Bible, Iraq (region of ancient Baghdad and the Babylonians) and Iran (region of ancient Persia), the Bible gives us two different pictures. Babylon (regional area of Iraq) is linked with the conquering, exile, and captivity of the Jewish people while Persia (regional area of Iran) is associated with friendship to Israel.
Persia is the Kingdom in which a pagan king takes a Jewish Queen who is used by God to block a conspiracy to kill all of the Jewish people in the empire. (Esther)
Earlier, the Jewish prophet Isaiah predicted that Cyrus the King of Persia would be God’s anointed servant (literally messiah) to return the Jewish people from exile in Babylon to their homeland and Jerusalem (Isaiah 45:1-8).
Then there were the Magi who are now believed to have been wise men/astrologers from the region of ancient Persia who mysteriously recognized the star in the East as an indicator that the long awaited King of Israel had been born (Matt 2:1).
Yet there is for the future an ominous note. The prophet Ezekiel links (Gog and Magog–an apparent ancient regional reference to the region occupied by modern Russia) with a coalition of 5 nations that include Libya, Ethiopia, and Persia in an attack on Israel from the North (Ezek 38:3-23). According to the same prophecy this invasion will occur while Israel is living in apparent peace without defenses and will result in God’s own defeat of the invasion. More than a few Bible students maintain that this invasion reflects an end time biblical scenario that has not yet been fulfilled.
My point is not that we should be trying to figure out where we are on God’s time table, but rather that God does have a time-table, a purpose, and a plan for Israel (in her unbelief, and eventually in her repentance) and the nations.
President Obama, Prime Minister Netanyahu, and President Ahmadenejad are all accountable to God and subject to that plan– as we are… willingly and knowingly… or unwillingly and unknowingly.