Fifty years ago, the tiny nation of Israel won a conflict known today as the Six-Day War. One major result of this war shows us an aspect of how God will fulfill His plan at the end of the age.
In early 1967, the world watched with increasing concern as Syria, Egypt, and (to a lesser degree) Jordan made provocative gestures towards Israel. Modern-day Israel was a relatively young nation—established in 1948, in part, to give the Jewish people their historic homeland after the Holocaust atrocity. From day one, the Jews had to fight. The ancient land of Israel had been occupied for centuries by many different nations, and had been under Ottoman control until the end of World War I.
After that war, the British took control of Palestine from the Ottoman Empire and began encouraging Jews to return to their Biblical homeland. As the Jews grew in numbers, they started to demand independence from the British Empire, even though the British maintained peace, however imperfectly, between the Jews and Arabs living there. Nevertheless, Britain agreed to withdraw, and the Arabs and Jews quickly went to war in 1948. The Jews were successful, but the Arab nations around them continued to seethe.
These feelings escalated over the next several years as both sides continued to arm themselves. In 1967, when it became obvious that war was inevitable, Israel acted quickly and decisively. Their surprise attack destroyed most of the air forces of Egypt, Syria and Jordan in a matter of hours, while their ground units went on the offensive. In six days, Egypt lost the Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula, Syria lost the Golan Heights, and Jordan lost the West Bank. Israel was stunned by its own success, despite its commitment and preparation.
And, while the speed of events caught most people off guard, those who study their Bibles were focused on one major prophecy that came to pass during this time: Beyond all other successes, Israel also conquered the city of Jerusalem. Even when it was established as a nation in 1948, Israel did not have complete control of Jerusalem, the Jews’ holiest city. Muslims, too, believe Jerusalem to be a holy city, as do many Christians. However, since the rise of Islam, Jerusalem had (for the most part) been under Muslim control.
Yet, God’s word declares that Jerusalem will play a role at the end of this age due to the Jewish people’s presence. Zechariah 12:1–3 declares that Jerusalem will be troubled, but will perplex the nations who trouble it. Those who seek to harm it find it to be a “heavy stone,” while others will find it like a “cup of drunkenness.” Zechariah 14:1–2 shows that all nations will eventually attack and overwhelm Jerusalem. Yet, strangely, they only take half the city captive. Today, we see how this prophecy may be fulfilled: The Jewish half of the city will be taken captive while the Arab half will be allowed to remain. This prophecy only makes sense when speaking of a time when Jerusalem would be a mixed population, half of which are Jewish.
The Six-Day War advanced prophecy in a major way by giving Jews control over the city of Jerusalem. While there are many prophecies yet to be fulfilled, those of us who believe the Bible should be reminded that God’s hand has been guiding world affairs to bring us all the closer to the end of this age.