Of Israel's Ongoing Election Struggles and the Middle East

I know that some of you are inquiring as to what is happening in Israel with regard to the election held in September.  If you remember, the results of that election resulted in political gridlock.  Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud Party, along with those parties aligned with him, controlled 55 seats in the Knesset, Israel's Parliament.  Former Army Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and his Blue and White Party, along with those parties aligned with him, controlled 54 seats.  As a consequence, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin invited the Prime Minister to attempt to form a coalition government.  He was given 28 days to do so.  That four-week period concluded this week with the Prime Minister being unable to form that coalition government.  It seems that the main reason for this lack of success is the "Damocles Sword" of an impending indictment on corruption charges that hangs over the Prime Minister's head. 

Today, President Rivlin is expected to invite Benny Gantz to form a coalition government.  He will have the same 28-day period of time given to him.  Will he be successful?  Will any of those parties that had aligned themselves with the Prime Minister be swayed to join a Blue and White Party coalition?  From what I have been reading it does not seem likely.  It appears that the lines are pretty well drawn in the sand.  So, let's say that Mr. Gantz is unable to form a coalition government, then what happens?  The most likely scenario is that new elections will be called.  This would be the third time for national elections within the year.  Will anything have changed in the political climate?  The likely answer is "possibly."  If the Prime Minister is indicted that would probably mean a change in the leadership of the Likud Party.  Whoever that person might be, it could have a strong influence in an election.  Anyway you look at it, the political climate within Israel is very unstable at this point in time.

This is not a good time for this unrest.  Hezbollah has threatened to launch rockets into Israel from within the southern borders of Lebanon.  They claim to have rockets that can reach all the way to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.  The border along the Gaza Strip remains a volatile arena.  Furthermore, the situation in Syria just became more dangerous from an Israeli perspective.  With the American troops leaving Syria - and I am not going to get into the debate as to whether that should happen or not - a vacuum has been created that the Russians have stepped into.  What does this mean for Syria and for Israel?

For Syria, I believe it is a strong indication that Syrian President Assad will remain in power.  He has withstood the challenge these past nine years of civil war because of his alliances with Russia and Iran.  The presence of Russian and Iranian military forces within Syria probably will not change.  But what complicates this matter is the invasion of Syria by Turkish forces seeking to destroy the Kurds whom they regard as "terrorists."  These are the Kurds who aligned themselves with the United States in the war again ISIS.  Russia is caught in the middle: they have a strong military alliance with Turkey as well as strong ties with Syria.  A brokered cease-fire seems to be holding, but, in that region of the world, cease-fires really have little meaning. 

For Israel, I believe that they are confronted with the reality that the Iranians will be encamped very near to their Golan Heights border with Syria.  We hear reports of drone attacks on Iranian supply depots within Syria.  There is little doubt that those drones originate within Israel.  They are preemptive as Israel seeks to defend itself. 

As I shared in my sermon this past Sunday, our spiritual eyes are focused upon the return of Jesus, and our earthly eyes should be focused upon the events happening within the Middle East.  It is there in Israel that another temple will be built larger than any temple built before.  It has to be so big because the entire world will be coming there to worship.  (See Ezekiel 40-48).  And where will this temple be located?  In Washington?  No!  In London?  No!  In Moscow?  No!  In Beijing?  No!  It will be in Jerusalem.  Oh what a day that will be!

I close with just one news item concerning Chick-fil-A, which, by the way, is one of my favorite places to eat.  I love their chicken soup and it will soon be time for their famous mint-chip shakes.  Recently Chick-fil-A opened a restaurant in a suburb of London.  They wanted to introduce the British to "eat mor chiken."  However, in England there is a very strong LGBTQ lobby.  They raised their voices in protest of Chick-fil-A with the result that this restaurant will be closing its doors just 6-months after opening its doors.  This lobby group, who prides themselves on being tolerant, appears to be very intolerant toward Chick-fil-A.  I guess you have to agree with them and their agenda in order to be tolerated.  So, we could say that they have a very selective tolerance.  How sad to have a handful of people shut down an eating place. 

The political scene continues to become mired in hearsay and secret meetings.  All we hear are the "selective leaks" that are allowed.  This is hardly the American way - or at least it was not the American way of its past.  Perhaps it is the new American way.  If it is, then I am indeed fearful of the intended consequences that will follow. 

As I shared with my congregation this past Sunday, these are exciting days.  I reminded them that the one people group that should be the most excited on planet earth are Christians.  Why?  It is because we have a hope!  We have a future!  We know how the story is ending!  Friends, lift up your heads because our redemption is coming soon!


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