“ROAD MAP” TO PEACE PLAN
Once again the Mideast is the target of a plan for bringing peace to the region. However, expectations are not high that this current proposal will bring an end to the killings and ever-present fear that now rules.
“The latest plan was drafted by the so-called quartet of Mideast mediators: the United States, European Union, United Nations and Russia. It calls for an immediate cease-fire, a crackdown on Palestinian militias, an Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian towns and the dismantling of Jewish settlements erected since 2001. A Palestinian state with provisional borders could be established by year’s end, with full statehood possible within three years, according to the timetable” (www.msnbc.com 5/1/2003).
This same article reports on yet another terrorist attack coinciding with the delivery of the peace initative: “It was the 89th suicide bombing targeting Israelis in the past 31 months. Since September 2000, 2,287 people have been killed on the Palestinian side and 763 people on the Israeli side.”
In addition, as Reuters reported on May 1, “Twelve Palestinians, including a two-year-old boy, were killed on Thursday when Israeli forces thrust into a Gaza neighborhood in a sweep for wanted militants shortly after the release of a Middle East peace ‘road map.’ The tank and infantry raid sent a strong signal to a ‘Quartet’ of U.S.-led mediators and to the new Palestinian government that Israel would press ahead with such operations despite the new proposal to end 31 months of bloodshed… Israeli officials said they will not change the way they confront an uprising for statehood until the Palestinians show they are cracking down on militants as required by the road map.”
Israel’s champion from the outside remains to be the United States while the European Union clearly sides with the Palestinian cause. For President Bush, there is overwhelming political pressure from the religious right as well as his own perceived stand to not place too much pressure on Israel to concede either their safety or their land. Meanwhile, the Europeans are pressuring for an independent Palestinian state, while the Palestinians want Jerusalem to be their capital. As Reuters reported on May 1, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell is expected to arrive for talks on the road map on May 8, while EU’s foreign policy chief Javier Solana will leave on May 11 for a week-long visit to the Middle East, in order to “move things forward for implementation of the road map.”
However strange and out of proportion it may seem to other hot spots and troubling world circumstances, the land of Israel, and in particular Jerusalem, continues to garner front page headlines. This area is destined to play an ongoing role in world affairs. In fact, as prophecy shows, this part of the earth will become center stage for the events leading to the return of Jesus Christ. Zechariah 12:3 speaks of these times: ” ‘And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it.’ ” Daniel 11:45 also speaks of a time when a great religious/political power will seek to establish its rule in the land of Israel. At the same time, as shown in Revelation chapter 11, two witnesses–prophets of God who will be given great power to resist the false political and religious leaders then in power–will be in Jerusalem for a period of three and one-half years.
As we watch events in our daily news, let us not lose sight of the ominous reality that all of these things portend! While we seek to understand these things from the true perspective of God’s Word, let us also carefully attend to the admonition in Hebrews 10:25: “…exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”
NEWS ON IRAQ
Although President Bush is declaring that major combat in Iraq is finished, Iraqi attackers lobbed two grenades into a U.S. Army compound Thursday, wounding seven soldiers just hours after the Americans had fired on Iraqi protestors in the street outside, according to Yahoo! News of May 1, 2003. This incident is “the latest in a series of clashes and deadly shootings involving U.S. troops in Fallujah,” according to the report. On Monday, “16 demonstrators and bystanders were killed and more than 50 wounded… In that clash, an 82nd Airborne company, whose members said they were being shot at, fired on a protest outside a school occupied by U.S. soldiers.”
The Associated Press reported on April 30, 2003, that “France has sent a diplomat to Baghdad despite U.S. resistance to a prominent French role… ‘France wants to be present at the side of the Iraqi people,’ Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin said. He added that Paris wanted to take the initiative under the supervision of the United Nations but was moving ahead to lay the groundwork… The foreign minister did not spell out exactly how France plans to contribute to the reconstruction, nor how it intends to overcome American and British resentment over its oppostion to the war. French-U.S. relations will recover, if only ‘out of necessity,’ De Villepin said. ‘We have to work together, the problems (of the region) are beyond the capacity of just one power.'”
The Bible predicts quite a different outcome for the region, as anticipated by most observers and politicans today. Our free booklet, “The Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord,” sheds much light on the real future of the Middle East.
A very serious and deadly earthquake struck Eastern Turkey on May 1, with at least 150 deaths and 300 injuries. The magnitude of this quake was 6.4, followed by several aftershocks with the magnitude of 5.0 (Der Spiegel Online, May 1, 2003).
This week has also seen the occurrence of unusual earthquakes in the United States. One centered in Alabama with a magnitude of 4.9, and another centered in Blytheville, Arkansas, with a magnitude of 4.0. The Arkansas earthquake activity is close to the scene of the great New Madrid earthquake of the early 1800’s which literally was felt across much of the United States. Nothing of that scale has hit the U.S. since then. However, with the vastly increased population now in this area, another super earthquake approaching the earlier magnitude would be utterly devastating. In addition, new findings reveal a previosuly undetected additional fault line under the city of Los Angeles.
The Bible predicts the increase of earthquake activity prior to Christ’s return. Matthew 24:7-8 states, “‘ For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.'” Compare also Mark 13:8 and Luke 21:11.