Anyone remotely familiar with the Good Book knows that the number seven holds a special place in Biblical numerology. This revelation begins with the very first chapter of the first book of the Bible, Genesis, where we are told that the Sovereign Lord created the world in seven days, which then became the basis of our internationally recognized seven day week. Later in Genesis God reveals to Pharaoh through Joseph that Egypt will be blessed by seven years of plenty, followed by seven years of drought and famine.
In Leviticus 25, the Creator unfolds His pattern for the recurring seven year Jewish agricultural cycle that ends with the seventh “Shmitah” year. God then reveals that seven cycles of seven years will end with the fiftieth “Jubilee Year.” Later Ezekiel is told that the Israelis will spend seven years burning the weapons used in the end time “Gog and Magog” invasion, led apparently by Russia (more on that later). The prophet Daniel learns from an angel that a total of seventy years have been “determined” for the Jewish people before history ends—the last week of sevens terminating with Messiah’s majestic rule over all the earth.
In modern times, years ending in seven have proved to be critical in the restoration of the Jewish state of Israel after an absence from the world stage of nearly 2,000 years. In November 1917, the British government issued the seminal “Balfour Declaration” which played a pivotal role in Israel’s contemporary re-creation. Exactly 30 years later in November 1947, the United Nations confirmed the British “Mandate” to oversee the establishment of a modern Jewish state within the boundaries of the biblical Promised Land, which sparked off Israel’s first war with surrounding Muslim countries.
Twenty years later, in June 1947, vastly outnumbered Jewish soldiers captured the walled Old City of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site on earth for over three millennia, along with Jordan’s self-annexed “West Bank” and the outlying Sinai Peninsula in the south and the strategic Golan Heights in the north. While these unexpected conquests greatly enhanced Israel’s power and reach in the region, they also led to yet another major conflict in 1973, and contributed to the 1982 Lebanon war and other military bust ups that have taken place with wearying regularity ever since then.
In June 1977, Menachem Begin became the first conservative Likud party leader to rule over Israel after three decades of left wing Labor party governance. This led to many significant changes in Israel and the region, including the Camp David peace treaty between Egypt and Israel and the start of significant Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria, Israel’s biblical heartland.
In the final weeks of 1987, just before I began reporting for the American CBS radio network, the first “Palestinian uprising” began in the Gaza Strip, which would ignite further regional upheaval and result in many deaths. Twenty years later in June 2007, Israeli Air Force jets destroyed a nascent nuclear reactor being constructed in the eastern Syrian Desert with North Korean and Iranian assistance, thus removing the probability that Syria and Iran would develop nuclear weapons in the near term.
Some may argue that our Western calendar is not relevant to the Jewish people who follow their own, far more ancient, calendar. This might be true except for the fact that Jewish years, which begin on Rosh Ha Shana in September, always end with the same digit as Gregorian calendar years. Thus, we are now in the Jewish year 5777, which contains no less than three sevens in it!! Given the biblical significance of the number seven, it may be an extraordinary year for sure.
WHAT LIES AHEAD FOR 2017?
Will this year, 2017—exactly 100 years since the Balfour Declaration was issued, 70 years after the UN basically endorsed it, and 50 years since divided Jerusalem was united under Israeli rule—prove to be another very significant year for the modern State of Israel? Obviously only time will tell. However the initial indications are that it may be an extremely crucial year indeed.
To begin with, it has only been a year and a half since the last of the four “Blood Moon” solar eclipses was visible in the skies above Israel and elsewhere on earth. As many, including myself, noted at the time, the rare occurrence of such Tetrad eclipses on the Jewish festivals of Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles have historically been closely related to crucial developments for the Jewish people, including the 1947 UN vote and the 1948-49 War of Independence and the 1967 Six Day War. I and many others expressed the conviction that another major war could either precede, be concurrent with, or closely follow the latest rare round of Tetrad blood moons coinciding with Israel’s two week long biblical festivals. I strongly suspect that this Jewish year, 5777, may well be the time when another major conflict engulfs the region.
WAR ON THE HORIZON?
In my estimation, the foundations for a new regional conflict were laid in the 1980s. Early in the decade, Iran—in the wake of the 1979 Shiite Muslim revolution—actively switched from being an ally of Israel to a self-declared enemy. This new enmity was fleshed out in 1982 when Iran fathered the radical Hizbullah movement in war-torn Lebanon. Today, the movement’s militia wing possesses one of the largest arsenals on earth, including chemical weapons and hundreds of thousands of mostly Iranian-supplied missiles and rockets. For all we know, one or two “field” nuclear warheads may also be in its ever growing arsenal. It is fairly clear that Hizbullah would play a major role in any new regional conflict.
Later in the decade, the radical Sunni Muslim Hamas movement sprang up in the Gaza Strip. Although Shiite and Sunni Muslims are currently busy slaughtering each other elsewhere in the roiling Middle East, especially in Syria, Yemen and Iraq, the mullahs in Iran have succeeded in allying their country with Hamas terrorists, providing financial aid, weapons, and military training to the radical movement which openly calls for Israel’s total destruction, as of course do officials in Tehran. Earlier this month, Israeli army leaders declared that Hamas is now back to full fighting strength following the radical militia’s blistering defeat in the 2014 summer war, during which the terrorist group blasted parts of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem with mid range rockets for the first time.
Another terror group, the self-proclaimed “Islamic State” movement based in Syria and Iraq, became a fully active player in the Muslim jihad war to annihilate Israel on February 9. That is when the group announced that it had fired four rockets at the southern Israeli resort city of Eilat. The attack came from the nearby Egyptian Sinai Peninsula, where Islamic State fighters have been gaining strength for several years. Israel’s highly sophisticated Iron Dome anti-rocket system successfully intercepted three of the rockets while a fourth landed in an open area outside of the Red Sea port city, which is always bustling with mainly European tourists this time of year.
One of the latest threats emanating from Tehran came in late January when Iranian Revolutionary Guards official Musqtada Al Sadr said that any attempt by President Trump to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Israel’s capital city, Jerusalem, would be considered “an act of war” by Iran and other Muslim countries and groups, and would be responded to accordingly. In fact, Iran needs no excuse to go to war with Israel since it has already been in an open state of hostility with the world’s only Jewish State since 1979. What Al Sadr’s harsh words seem to indicate is that Iran is now ready to attack Israel at any time, at the very least via its Muslim proxy forces stationed in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.
In early February, the Shiite Islamic regime test fired another ballistic missile in violation of a UN resolution endorsing the 2015 nuclear pact between Iran, the Obama Administration and several other world powers. President Trump responded by saying Iranian leaders were “playing with fire. Later his new national security advisor, Michael Flynn, told reporters that “The international community has been too tolerant of Iran’s bad behavior. The ritual of convening a United Nations Security Council in an emergency meeting and issuing a strong statement is not enough.”
In response to the warnings coming out of Washington, Supreme Iranian Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivered a fiery a speech on February 7, proclaiming that President Trump “should be afraid of me.” He added that Trump’s electoral triumph “confirmed what we have been saying for more than 30 years about the political, economic, moral and social corruption in the US ruling system.”
Earlier in the week, Iranian-backed Yemeni Shiite Houthi rebels announced that their forces successfully launched a long range ballistic missile that can reach the Saudi capital of Riyadh. Any missile attack upon the oil rich Sunni Arab country would probably unleash a much wider regional war along with a worldwide oil price surge that would greatly benefit Vladimir Putin’s struggling petroleum-based economy.
Another possible regional war spark is the vicious internal conflict raging in neighboring Syria since early 2011, which has taken hundreds of thousands of lives and always has the potential of spilling over into Israel. In fact, numerous clashes have already taken place along the shared border, and Israeli warplanes have periodically bombed Syrian, Hizbullah and Islamic State positions inside of the crumbling Arab country. Several Israeli military analysts say the Trump Administration’s contested travel ban from Syria and six other regional Muslim countries has also increased the prospect of armed attacks upon American and Israeli targets in the turbulent Middle East and elsewhere.
THE RISING RUSSIAN BEAR
The escalating turmoil in the Middle East comes as Russia continues to grow in regional strength and influence, largely due to America’s widely perceived retreat from the region under former President Barrack Hussein Obama. The prospect that Russian military forces may end up clashing with Western and/or Israeli forces, either by design or accident, is always ever present and seemingly growing.
Meanwhile the Kremlin continues to strengthen Russian naval and air force bases located on Syria’s Mediterranean coast, which were largely abandoned after the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. Most recently, Russian ballistic missiles that can carry nuclear payloads have been spotted at Russian air and naval bases in Syria. Dozens of Russian fighter aircraft and naval vessels are now routinely stationed in the blood-soaked Arab country. To the north, the Kremlin is busy strengthening ties with NATO member Turkey, announcing in February that a major fuel pipeline will soon be constructed, designed to bring Russian natural gas to Turkey and other area countries. Moscow is already the biggest gas supplier to many parts of Europe, adding to European Union reluctance to rattle the increasingly brash and beefy Russian bear.
Evidence continues to mount on the ground that Vladimir Putin is planning to invade the three small Baltic Sea states that were once under Soviet control but are now NATO members. Analysts say President Trump’s expressed ambivalence about the North Atlantic military alliance, along with his desire to improve strained US ties with Putin that were severely frayed by Russia’s military seizure of the Crimean Peninsula, have added to the prospects that the Kremlin will launch military aggression against Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia.
With American military forces now stationed in nearby NATO member Poland, Putin continues to strengthen his military forces and hardware in the small Russian-controlled Baltic Sea enclave of Kaliningrad which lies between Poland and Lithuania. European military officials say a new hot war between Russia and the United States and at least some of its allies could break out in the area at any moment.
Many Christian prophecy buffs are expecting Russia to soon launch the international attack upon Israel foretold in Ezekiel 38 and 39. I’ve already mentioned that I do not share this view, given that the prophesied end time assault is said to end with Israel’s total spiritual salvation. Such a “pre-tribulation” attack does not jive with other biblical oracles which reveal that a powerful worldwide ruler known as Antichrist will govern and oppress the entire planet, including Israel, for three and a half years before the final battles of history engulf the Middle East and elsewhere. However a separate “preview war” pitting Russian forces against Israel and its allies, possibly including the United States, is entirely possible in my estimation. Given Vladimir Putin’s escalating worldwide aggression, and Donald Trump’s apparent assertiveness, such military clashes may now be considered probable. It may be that in the midst of any pending clash between Syria and Israel, the Syrian capital city of Damascus will be entirely wiped out, as foretold in Isaiah 17. I suspect that this ancient oracle will be the next one to be fulfilled on the world stage as the prophesied final military and spiritual showdowns of history unfold.
Is the explosive Middle East about to erupt in another major regional war? A longtime friend of mine living in
Jerusalem recently sent me a report stating that several prominent Jewish and Gentile believers have received “prophetic words and dreams” in recent months concerning imminent war in the Promised Land. Although it now appears that Donald Trump may fail to keep his campaign promise to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem—in the face of intense Muslim opposition to the proposed move—many Muslim countries and militant groups remain upset that his newly appointed ambassador to Israel, an Orthodox Jew, intends to live in and operate out of Judaism’s holiest city on earth. Trump’s failure to echo Obama’s harsh condemnation of new Israeli home construction in Judea and Samaria, and the new President’s much tougher stand against Iran, have surely added to the chances that another major Middle East war is in the offing.
Even before Trump was unexpectedly elected as America’s next Commander in Chief, Israeli security forces were busy preparing for stepped up Arab violence this year. Several Muslim groups had already indicated they would mark Israel’s jubilee conquest of Jerusalem’s walled Old City and nearby Judea and Samaria by escalating violent assaults upon Israel’s Jewish population. The recent Hamas rocket attack upon Israeli territory may well prove to have been the opening round in a fresh clash between the extremist Palestinian Muslim group and Israeli armed forces. The unprovoked Hamas attack prompted Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman to warn that the world’s only Jewish State would “win a decisive victory this time” if another clash with the terrorist militia breaks out.
Many analysts assert that Trump’s unexpected election has also added to the prospects that one or more of America’s bitter enemies may launch armed assaults against the United States and/or its close allies. I still sense in my prayer times that a major attack upon the American homeland, possibly a nuclear one, is looming. This could emanate from Communist North Korea which has vowed to fire nuclear weapons at the superpower. Russia and Iran and their cronies are among several other obvious adversarial candidates as well.
Many American Christian leaders have been publicly stating their opinion that Donald Trump’s surprise electoral triumph signals a new, more spiritual road ahead for the deeply divided country. Some assert that the divine judgments which many were expecting had Hillary Clinton assumed power have now been cancelled. They point in particular to the fact that the new Vice President, Mike Pence, is a born again Christian, along with several other top administration appointees like Dr. Ben Carson.
Now residing in the troubled United States after living over 30 years in Israel, I would obviously like to believe that no major internal or external upheaval is looming on the cloudy American horizon. However it is already clear that Trump’s brashness and propensity to upset other world leaders, both traditional friends and foes (along with not a few of his own citizens), is stirring up anti-American feelings in many places. America was already losing global respect and influence under the relatively hapless Obama, despite his attempts to placate the world with his “progressive” stands. Under the more nationalistic and rather bombastic Trump, we can expect an escalation of anti-American sentiment and action for sure.
Many more difficult days seem to lie just ahead for America, Israel and the rest of the sin-soaked world. However we who know the Lord as our Savior and King can rejoice over the fact that these dark days were clearly foretold long ago by many ancient Hebrew prophets, including Peter, Paul and Yeshua (Jesus). In fact, the Lord instructed His followers to “lift up your heads” toward heaven in response to the world’s end time drama because the dark days would signal that “your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 22:28). And that is the glowing silver lining behind today’s stormy skies.
Blessings and shalom,
DAVID DOLAN is an author and journalist who moved to Israel from his native America in 1980. Although he now resides once again in the United States, he continues to write and speak about the country that he keeps a watchful eye on.