So much is happening on the world scene these days that even watching the news on TV can leave you breathless! No-one can be unaware of the major situation that is developing in Israel.
Just one week ago I was enjoying the peace of a Shabbat in Israel prior to preaching in Christ Church, Jerusalem on the Sunday morning. Everyone was aware that the so-called peace in the land had a ring of unreality about it. For many months the daily news in Jerusalem has included a tally of how many rockets had been fired in the last twenty four hours into Israel from Gaza. I don’t think there is any other country in the world that would have been so amazingly tolerant as Israel has been. If even one rocket had been fired, in anger, onto the territory of any of our western nations, there would have been an immediate response.
Then last Monday morning, I was sitting in a Jerusalem cafe, enjoying breakfast with some friends. While we were chatting about all sorts of normal things – behind every discussion topic was the realisation that this apparent normality could be shattered in just a moment of time. As I left Israel on Monday evening there seemed to be a significantly higher level of security at the airport – there was tension in the air. By Wednesday everyone knew what was going on and before the next Shabbat the first rockets for over twenty years would be fired in the direction of Tel a Viv and Jerusalem.
Even as I write these words on Saturday in England, the Middle East is changing shape once more and the leaders of the world’s nations are sitting on the edge of their seats wondering what will happen next. Once again Israel is the centre of the world’s focus.
2,000 years ago an event took place in Israel around which history has ever since been focussed – the birth of Jesus. Last Sunday I walked out of the Zion Gate in Jerusalem and looked across to the Mount of Olives, a place which Jesus often visited. I was stunned as I looked at this brilliant rainbow in the sky – an extraordinary example of God’s great covenant-keeping sign, touching the earth at the exact spot to which one day soon Jesus will return. Zechariah 14:4 tells us that “on that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives”. And it was an angel who spoke to the disciples, after Jesus had ascended from the Mount of Olives, saying “this same Jesus who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go” (Acts 1:11).
The rainbow reminded me of the fact of God’s covenant love and His covenant promises. Whatever is going on in the world is not a surprise to Him. The world may be a very uncertain place from our earthly perspective. But all the current events of world history are included within the time frame of these two great covenant keeping events – the ascension and the return of Jesus.
As I looked at that amazing rainbow, touching earth at the Mount of Olives, I had a deep sense that the time line of history was drawing to a close and that we can unconditionally trust the Lord of history as we walk through whatever events unfold in the years yet to come. We can trust Him!