17 July, 2006

Unwalled Villages


It's going to be very interesting to see how the events in the Middle East will turn out. Keeping in mind Ezekiel 38 and the idea that Christ will return "like a thief in the night" (1 Thes. 5:2), in that people won't be looking for his return, I'm wondering if peace, albeit a temporary one, will be one of the prerequisites to prophecy being fulfilled. Ezekiel 38 talks about an invading nation coming into a land of "unwalled villages" (Eze. 38:11). As this land can't be any other than Israel, it appears that Israel is living in a state of safety (hence the unwalled villages) immediately prior to being attacked. Secondly, if things in the Middle East were SO bad, wouldn't every Christian out there be looking for Christ's return (and defeating the idea of him returning unexpected)? Although perhaps because of the mainstream idea one's hope ultimately rests in heaven with God and not on earth with Christ in the Kingdom, prophecy and events in the Middle East and therefore the coming of Christ will ultimately be ignored until it's too late.

It's also worth noting 1 Thes 5:3 "For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape." The word "say" can also be translated "call" so that this verse can either mean people are living in peace and safety OR people are calling desperately for peace and safety (in that that have neither). Regardless, what better time for Christ to return then when there's relative saftey in the Middle East? Who would be expecting his return then...?

It's been said that "unwalled villages" can also refer to an agarian society as outlined in Leviticus 25:24-31 but I'm not entirely convinced that Israel will be a nation of which the main economy is farming immidiately prior to Christ's return. The second half of verse 11 wouldn't make sense otherwise. "...I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates." The emphasis here is on a perceived safety, not agriculture. It's worth noting that agriculture currently employs less than 5% of Israel's working population and contributes only 6% of the national income.

Finally, Israel has been building the controversial "Separation Barrier" for the past year or so, made up of large concrete walls and a series of barriers, erected between the West Bank and Israel. As of January 2006, approximately 31% has been constructed; another 16.5% is under construction; 43% has been approved and the remaining 9.5% requires final approval.

So, does this wall need to come down if Israel is to be the land of "unwalled villages"?
Is "safety" in Israel going to happen one way or another before Christ returns?
If not, how would Christ return like a "thief in the night" if people are expecting him due to the extreme violence and unrest in the area?

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