A Covenant With Death
This Week’s Feature Article by Jack Kelley
Therefore hear the word of the LORD, you scoffers who rule this people in Jerusalem. You boast, “We have entered into a covenant with death, with the grave we have made an agreement. When an overwhelming scourge sweeps by, it cannot touch us, for we have made a lie our refuge and falsehood our hiding place.”
So this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed.
I will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the plumb line; hail will sweep away your refuge, the lie, and water will overflow your hiding place. Your covenant with death will be annulled; your agreement with the grave will not stand. When the overwhelming scourge sweeps by, you will be beaten down by it. (Isaiah 28:14-18)
I first wrote about this passage from Isaiah about six years ago. At the time Israel was in the process of giving up the Gaza Strip in the hopes of moving closer to peace with the Palestinians. Since then things have only gotten worse for the Jewish people. Every effort they’ve made to accommodate world opinion has left them weakened, while their enemies have become stronger.
As I read the accounts of Israel’s current situation, Isaiah’s words still come to mind. Some believe that in his prophecies Isaiah was sending the Southern Kingdom three messages simultaneously. The first had to do with the near term and warned them of a coming judgment at the hands of the Babylonians. It would be similar to the one the Northern Kingdom was about to receive from the Assyrians. The second message concerned the times surrounding the first coming of the Messiah, and the third described events at the End of the Age. Scholars who hold this view claim that in some places Isaiah refers to all three time frames at once. If so Isaiah 28:14-18 is one of them.
What’s He Talking About?
The meaning of the passage is clear. By making treaties with countries committed to their demise, the Israelites were fooling themselves into believing that they’d be exempt from those countries’ plans for expansion and conquest. In truth Israel’s policies of appeasement would generate agreements based on wishful thinking that would be quickly broken whenever the enemy found it convenient to do so. It proved to be true with the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Syrians of Greek times, the Romans, and lately the “Palestinians.” This policy will finally culminate in the ultimate self-deception. A treaty with the anti-Christ will just about bring them to ruin.
The Lord had Isaiah warn His people that there was only one man in the world they could trust, and that was their Messiah. Only He would deal justly and righteously with them. All others, even their supposed friends, would lie to suit their own purposes, which would always run contrary to Israel’s.
Those of us with Biblical background and prophetic understanding watch in open dismay as Israel’s current leaders bow to international pressure and plan once again to evict their own people from God-given land, explaining that by doing so they’re achieving peace with their neighbors. But even those without such understanding need only review the recent actions of Israel’s friends and enemies to gain a clear view of what the future will bring.
Iran keeps stepping up the pace of its nuclear program, having dropped all pretense of just wanting an additional source for domestic power, while repeating their determination to wipe Israel off the face of the Earth. A growing consensus among Israel’s commanding generals has resulted in a public plea that they be allowed to attack Iran and destroy their nuclear capabilities before it’s too late.
At the same time, Syria’s current civil strife has left Lebanon almost completely under Iran’s control with Hezbollah a more than willing partner. The arch enemy stands poised at Israel’s northern border. And in the south Iran is turning Hamas soldiers into an army of disciplined commandos, ready to attack. Rocket and mortar fire increases daily.
In May of 2011 US President Obama publicly suggested that any agreement between Israel and the Palestinians would likely be made around Israel’s pre-1967 borders. The world jumped on his statement and even though he tried to back down from it a few days later, nobody listened. I don’t think that was an accident. I think Pres. Obama was deliberately making that position official US policy. Since then the world has been bringing almost unbearable pressure on Israel to accept it as well.
Having initially rejected the Obama position in the strongest terms, just recently Israeli PM Netanyahu seemed to be ready to agree to it, with two conditions. He won’t accept a divided Jerusalem and said the Palestinians must recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
Emboldened by the US position, but ignoring Netanyahu’s conditions, the Palestinians are planning a unilateral declaration of statehood to be presented to the UN for ratification in September.
How blind does one have to be to miss the handwriting on the wall? I believe the goal is to make Israel absolutely indefensible, forcing them to rely on the international community for protection. Look for growing pressure to tear down the security fences followed by calls for nuclear disarmament, all in the name of peace. (Remember, Ezekiel 38:11 describes Israel as being a land of un-walled villages just prior to the Moslem coalition’s sneak attack.)
Who You Gonna Call?
Ultimately, Israel will pin its hopes for protection on one man, the one we call the anti-Christ. Shortly after the Moslem coalition led by Iran and armed by Russia takes advantage of Israel’s careless assumption that peace has come and pulls a mammoth sneak attack, he’ll enforce a seven-year treaty that includes provisions for building a Temple in Israel. (Daniel 9:27) Israel will want a Temple by then because they’ll realize that the One who put the attacking forces to flight was God Himself. The Old Covenant, dormant for so long, will be renewed for its final seven years. But even so, they’ll accept the false Messiah who comes in his own name, having rejected the True One who came in His Father’s name (John 5:43) and the result will almost destroy them.
In the middle of the seven years their supposed benefactor will pull the ultimate betrayal, and proclaiming himself to be their God (2 Thes. 2:4), will set about to destroy every last one of them. He’ll do this from the very Temple he helped them build, and then he’ll bring the military resources of every nation on Earth to bear against them. Betrayed by friends and beset by enemies, they’ll have no one to turn to and with Jerusalem surrounded and half the city already taken it will look like the end is upon them at last.
“Come, let us return to the LORD,” they’ll cry. “He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence.”
“Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.” (Hosea 6:1-3)
And their Messiah Jesus, Who has been waiting for 2000 years for them to say this, will respond. “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son. (Zech 12:10)On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity. (Zech 13:1)
Then the LORD will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights in the day of battle. On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south. (Zech.14:3-4)
The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name. (Zech 14:9) The One Who is faithful and true will have fulfilled His every commitment to them, and as King of the whole Earth He’ll have the power to make it stick.
If you’re like me, you grieve over the current plight of God’s people. Know that the Lord grieves as well. Know also that as conditions steadily worsen for them, their victory and ours is breathtakingly near. For the One Who watches over Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps, and is ever alert for any sign that His people are ready to return to Him.
In the meantime Psalm 122:6-7 instructs us on the proper response to the events of our time. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May those who love you be secure. May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels.” If you listen closely, you can almost hear the footsteps of the Messiah. 08-05-11