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On May 14, 1948, in Tel Aviv, Jewish Agency Chairman David Ben-Gurion proclaimed the State of Israel, establishing the first Jewish state in 2,000 years. In an afternoon ceremony at the Tel Aviv Art Museum, Ben-Gurion pronounced the words, “We hereby proclaim the establishment of the Jewish state in Palestine, to be called Israel,” prompting applause and tears from the crowd gathered at the museum. Ben-Gurion became Israel’s first premier.

I was eleven years old at the time, but I’ll never forget the excitement of my parents when we received the news.  I didn’t understand it fully, but my parents told me that there hadn’t been a “State of Israel” for 2,000 years, but there were prophecies in the Bible about it being reborn.  They impressed upon me that Israel was the land God had given His chosen people, and this was the fulfillment of prophecy. Specifically Ezekiel 37:21: “Thus saith The LORD God: Surely I will take the children of ISRAEL from among the nations, WHEREVER they have gone, and will gather them from EVERY side and bring them BACK into their OWN LAND.”

I have witnessed in the last seventy years a miraculous transformation take place. There used to be a TV series called “Against All Odds” about Israel and the adversity it was up against to remain a nation.  The day it was declared a nation, it was attacked by forces from Egypt, Transjordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq. The Israelis, though less well equipped, managed to fight off the Arabs and then seize key territory, such as Galilee, the Palestinian coast, and a strip of territory connecting the coastal region to the western section of Jerusalem. In 1949, U.N.-brokered cease-fires left the State of Israel in permanent control of this conquered territory.

Although Israel is only 260 miles long, 60 miles at its widest and 9 miles wide at its narrowest point, you would think it was the “center of the world,” considering the worldwide attention it receives.  In 1948, it had a population of 860,000 and the land was mostly desolate wilderness. Today, it has a population of 8.8 million and is rich in resources and technology. 

God has always had a plan (for the world, for you and me, and for Israel).  Back in the beginning in Genesis 12:2-3, He told Abraham: “I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: and I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”  That may be why the tiny country of Israel is so important, don’t you think?

My parents also impressed upon me to remember that Israel is God’s “prophetic time-clock.” You may not realize it but about 38% of the Bible is “prophetic.”  In the Old Testament there were over 300 prophecies of the coming of the Messiah. All of these were fulfilled by Jesus Christ.  There are many more prophecies dealing with His return that have yet to be fulfilled. I would like to mention just a few and look at where we stand on this 70th Anniversary.

In the Old Testament book of Daniel, Gabriel, an archangel, gave Daniel a blueprint of God’s plan for Israel. The term for “weeks” is to be interpreted as “week of years,” in other words, seven years.

Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people (Israel) and upon thy holy city (Jerusalem), to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.”  (Daniel 9:24). 

So, that plan covers “seventy weeks of years” or 70 times 7, equaling 490 years. The first 69 weeks have already taken place.  At the time Daniel wrote this, Israel was still held captive in Babylon.  At the end of their 70 years of captivity, they were commanded to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the city and the walls.  From that time, until the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, was exactly 483 years (or 69 weeks of years). This means the 70th week, or the last seven years still hasn’t taken place.  During this 2,000 years “gap of time,” the “Church” was formed, and salvation offered to everyone who believes.  However, God is by no means finished with Israel.  That 70th week or seven years is referred to in the Bible as “Jacob’s Trouble,” or “The Great Tribulation,” when God will show His people His full power, authority and wrath.  This seven-year period is described in the Book of Revelation, the last book in the Bible.  It will be a terrible time of plagues, and “natural disasters.”  Its purpose will be to give Israel one last chance to believe in the Son of God.           

Another event that is predicted is the “Battle of Gog, and Magog.”  In Ezekiel 38 and 39, it tells of a time when Magog (Russia) will make an alliance with Persia (Iran) and other allies (Turkey, Libya, Sudan).  They will make it their mission to destroy Israel, and they will invade the land of Israel, but it will be there that God will destroy them.  So, you may be asking (like the disciples) “Lord, when will all this take place?”  Jesus told them:

Luke 21:10-11: “Then said he unto them, Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom:  And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven.”  

Luk21:17:  And ye shall be hated of allmenfor my name's sake.”

Luk21:28:  "And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draws near."

Is there any significance to this being the “70th” anniversary?  Perhaps, seventy has a sacred meaning in the Bible that is made up of the factors of two perfect numbers, seven (representing perfection) and ten (representing completeness and God's law). As such, it symbolizes perfect spiritual order carried out with all power. It can also represent a period of judgment.  Consider these occurrences of the number 70: 

  1. Moses appointed 70 elders to assist him in handling “judgment” for Israel.
  2. The “Sanhedrin” or judgment council of the Pharisee’s had 70 members.
  3. When Jacob migrated to Egypt, the total population of Israel was 70.
  4. Israel (Judah) was exiled in Babylon for 70 years.
  5. Daniel prophesied there would be 70 weeks (weeks of years) for Israel before judgment.
  6. Jerusalem was destroyed by Rome in 70 A.D.

It would seem they are all related to “completion” or “judgment.”  Are we approaching the completion of an era (or dispensation)?  Has time for “judgment” arrived?  I’ll leave that for you to conclude.

So where does Israel stand on this, its 70th anniversary?  Being the only “democratic” nation in the Mideast, it is pretty much isolated. It is being threatened (surprise), by Iran and Russia who have established a presence in Syria (just to the north of Israel).  On May 12, President Trump must decide whether the U. S. will keep the “Nuclear Treaty with Iran” or not.  Iran and Russia have threatened “severe consequences” if the U. S. backs out of the treaty. That decision is only two days before the “Anniversary Celebration.” The United Nations would like to give Jerusalem to the Palestinians for their Capital.  However, the United States has recognized Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and plan to open their embassy there on May 14 to celebrate the anniversary. It’s kind of like seeing a movie after you have read the book. The actors are in their places, the plot is unfolding, and if you read the book, you already know the outcome.

If you haven’t read the book, now is the time to read it. If you don’t have a relationship with the Author, now is also the time.  In 1948, I had no idea I would live to see these things take place, and although no one can set an exact date or time, it is clear God’s plan is unfolding just as He said it would.  My advice is to keep your eyes on Israel and Jerusalem, examine your spiritual condition, and be ready for the Lord’s return.

God Bless,
Dan

Posted by Dan Hubbell with 1 Comments
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    As someone who was alive all during the ministry of Dr. Graham, I was asked to recall the memories I have of him.  I remember as a youngster listening with my parents to his radio program “Hour of Decision.”  Then, my parents purchased their first TV in 1952, and I recall seeing his “crusades” on TV.  The year I graduated from high school, my friend Dale and I decided to attend “A Youth for Christ” camp at Winona Lake, Indiana.  Dr. Graham (who was one of the founders of Youth for Christ), Cliff Barrows, and George Beverly Shea were there for the entire week.  As a special guest, Ethel Waters was there.  It was certainly a blessing I’ve never forgotten. We’re talking sixty-four years ago, so Dr. Graham was 35 years old, and I was 17.  You might say it had a lasting impression on me.

    The next time I attended a crusade was around 1968 in Hartford, CN.  By that time, I had spent four years in the Air Force, was married with children, and was working at a bank in Hartford.  I had drifted away from the Lord but hearing there was a Billy Graham Crusade in town, I felt compelled to go.  On that occasion, I felt very convicted, but stubbornly refused to admit my guilt and condition.

    In the year 2000, the Billy Graham Crusade came to St. Louis.  I had totally given my heart to the Lord in 1982, so this time I wanted to really be a part of it.  A friend of mine here in this church decided we would not only sing in the choir, but we would also volunteer to be “counselors.”  I learned what really went into one of these “crusades.”  The crusade asked churches in the community to form groups who would pray for the crusade weeks before it started.  They sent people to have choir rehearsals and train counselors.  They also had people committed to follow up with those who made “decisions” during the crusade.  A lot of prayer, work, and cooperation went into the effort.  It always amazed me to see the number of people who came forward at each invitation, but now I was beginning to understand why.  The Holy Spirit was asked to be there, to touch hearts and lives, and the Bible says, “When you ask, you shall receive”.  I remember hearing Kurt Warner, the quarterback for the St Louis Rams, give his testimony of faith. I remember music by Charlie Daniels, Michael W. Smith, and of course, George Beverly Shea. 

    When Dr. Graham gave his message, people would listen.  I believe most people considered him a “Man of God.”  He always spoke with a passion and conviction, and his message never deviated.  He would emphasize that “God Loves You,” whoever you are, whatever you’ve done. He always included the “Gospel” as it says in I Corinthians 15:3-4: “that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the scriptures”.  Dr. Graham didn’t hesitate to say that heaven and hell were real places and people were given a choice.  “Now” is always the time to make that choice.  There was no guarantee of a “tomorrow.”  Although there were thousands of people attending the crusade, you felt like he was speaking directly to you.  How many came to know Jesus because of Billy Graham—only God knows.  But, looking back on his life, no one can say he was not faithful in “planting the seed,” and praying for the Holy Spirit to do His work. 

    One other thing I remember, Dr. Graham always wanted the same Invitational Hymn…. “Just as I am, without one plea, but that His blood was shed for me, and that thou bidst me come to thee, O Lamb of God, I come!  I come!”

    Yes, Dr. Graham had an impact on my life, and continues to have an impact.  He was a humble, devoted, disciplined, passionate servant of Jesus. He was a rare “Evangelist” who “walked the talk.”  The media thinks we should “mourn,” but I rejoice for Billy Graham.  I know he is having a great reunion with his wife, Ruth, and her parents (who were missionaries in China), with George Beverly Shea, Cliff Barrows, and thousands, perhaps millions, of saints who are there because they heard his message.  If you are a believer, you have the promise of joining that group someday—praising, rejoicing, and fellowshipping with all the saints of heaven.

    By the way, “the Graham Team” (Billy, Cliff, and George B. Shea) were blessed with long lives.  Cliff Barrows (92 years), Billy (99 years) and George Beverly Shea (104 years).  It pays to follow God’s will!!

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