Harry Whittaker
Five Minutes To Twelve

9. “I Will Overturn, Overturn, Overturn”

One of the most familiar prophecies made concerning the Jewish nation is to be found in Ezekiel 21: 27. It appears to speak with grim repetition of a triple overturning of a state and nation of unmatched privilege, which has turned its back on the God of its Fathers.

The first overturning came in Ezekiel's own day. The kingship ceased, the temple of Solomon was destroyed, and the cream of the nation was dragged away to ignominious captivity in Babylon. In the first century AD the Romans laid on a repeat performance. The sign of the prophet Jonah had a more harrowing fulfilment: "Yet forty years, and Jerusalem shall be overthrown". Temple and city, priesthood and people all became a shambles. Once again the Holy Land became Canaan. God seemed to have washed His hands of His vineyard.

But the righteous God of Israel cannot cast off forever. Always they must be given another chance. But that unclean spirit of self-reliance is still not exorcized.

"Is not this great Babylon that I have built?" is what those able industrious Jews mean, even though they never say it out loud.

So once again there will come an even more shattering overturning, the last and worst. Jesus foretold "wars, famines, pestilences, earthquakes" (Mt. 24: 7), and recent years have given horrifying advance notice of what it will mean when these judgments swing away from pitiable third world countries and focus on little Israel. Perhaps those plurals are again meant to be intensives: one big war, one big famine, one big pestilence, one big earthquake, and people and country alike will be a pathetic wilderness.

Not a few who read these words will recoil in horror and protest from what these words suggest, for they have long encouraged themselves to think of modern Israel as the first instalment of Messiah's kingdom. They have so doted on the undeniably fine qualities of these children of Abraham as to forget that what the prophets and apostles and Jesus himself reprobated in them is still there, as reprehensible as ever: "Children in whom is no faith".

The writing of these words bites deep into the soul of the writer. But who else among the New Israel of today has yet taken on himself to publish an anticipation of these frightening truths? Jesus wept over Jerusalem, knowing what lay ahead, and he, the Son of God, powerless to stop it. And today the honest-to-God disciple of Jesus, who is not an ostrich, knows what lies ahead, and he too weeps over Jerusalem.

One possible outcome of this third overturning may be a cataclysm of a different sort - the faith of thousands who should be clear-eyed about these things, but are not, will crack! With a sublime confidence that all the details of the divine programme have been known for generations right down to the last detail, or nearly so, minds which have accepted dogmatic assertion instead of unambiguous Scripture, will find that they cannot readjust overnight to the overturning of their cherished preconceived ideas. They will stagger like a drunken man.

And that is why these words are being put into print. No doubt some errors of judgment have crept in. What modern writer has the right to claim the infallibility, which has been so dogmatically attributed to better-known teachers? But the kind of Scriptures cited in these chapters- and there are plenty more - ought to merit at least a second consideration before being shrugged off by those in love with inherited conventional notions. The poor contrite spirit will tremble at God's word' and will turn again to ponder afresh the copious prophecies which have had only scant attention because it has not been obvious how to reconcile them with the traditions of the rabbis.

Here is a list of prophetic passages which all bear on this rather frightening theme of the final tribulation of Israel:






24 etc.
2, 3?











2 Pet.

Not all readers will readily agree that the foregoing chapters all have the same theme-the final overturning of Israel. But the reasons for their inclusion here are not utterly negligible.

How long will this fiery trial last? It took Hitler more than six years to dispose of six million Jews, even when using the fiendish efficiency of German concentration camps, firing squads, and gas chambers. Then even if Arab hatred makes up for Arab inefficiency in this field of benevolent activity, how long will it take to deal with the problem of 3½ million Jews?

There is a 3½-year period which is repeatedly associated with the end of "the time of Jacob's trouble" (quite specifically in Daniel 12: 7), and which has been made such a mess of by the "year for a day" theorists. One detail which has been systematically overlooked is that in the pregnant phrase: "time, times, and a half" the Hebrew text uses the word "mo'ed" (e.g. Ex.13: 10; 23: 15; Lev. 23: 2,4,37,44; Dt.16: 6) which always refers to a Jewish feast or holy day. Which holy day? (Dan. 8: 19, same word). The expression: "and a half" makes the identification almost specific, for the feasts of Tabernacles and Passover are exactly half a year apart. Then does not this point to a 3½-year period beginning at Passover and ending at Tabernacles, or vice versa? (The 1290 and 1335 also chime in with this chronological fit, as has been explained in "The Last Days", ch.6).

A period ending on the Day of Atonement (Tabernacles) when the High Priest comes from the presence of God to bless his people (Heb. 9: 28), seems appropriate.

But, then, so also does the alternative ending at Passover, for not a few Scriptures seem to suggest that feast as the time of the Lord's return (see "Passover" ch.14); and is not Passover the time of deliverance of God's nation from bondage?

In the circumstances, it would be unwise to be dogmatic beforehand, especially since there is at present no means of identifying the year when this special period might begin. Did not our Lord himself warn: "Of that day and hour knoweth no man. . . neither the Son, but the Father"?

It is a strange thing that there has been such neglect of the fact that this recurring 3½-year period is always associated with Israel's last and worst tribulation:

  1. "It shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished" (Dan. 12: 7).
  2. " He shall wear out the saints (= Israel, 8: 24) and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time" (7: 25).
  3. In the seventy sevens prophecy, the half of the last seven is not accounted for, but it seems to belong to "the overspreading of the abomination" (9: 27)
  4. In Rev. 11: 2 the holy city is down trodden "forty and two months".
  5. The woman (certainly Israel: Rev. 12: 1) flees into the wilderness in a time of persecution (12: 14), "a time and times and half a time".
  6. The Beast makes war with "the saints" (God's holy people) forty and two months; Rev. 13: 5.
  7. The slain witnesses ("Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord") lie in the street of the city "three days and a half" (11: 9) whilst their enemies "that dwell in the Land shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts- one to another, because these two prophets tormented the dwellers in the Land" (Rev. 11: 10 Gk).
There is also (see Mal. 4: 3-5; Jas. 5: 17 Lk. 4: 25) the indication of a 3½-year Elijah ministry in Israel in the time of their own down-treading. All the indications are that the ministry of Jesus and also the Roman war each lasted 3½ years. This suggests that the needful repentance among God's people (of which already there are some small signs) will be brought about by the pressure of an Arab "final solution" together with the ministry of an Elijah prophet calling the oppressed remnant back to faith in the God of their Fathers. When persecuted, harassed Jews are brought, in desperation, to say "Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord", then they will see him, the Messiah on whom they have hitherto stubbornly turned their back (Mt. 23: 39).

It would be foolish to be dogmatic about the programming of the last act in which the tragedy of Israel turns to Messianic triumph. But certainly there are here a fair number of prophetic details that seem to suggest a scenario of this character.

If it should be that events work out in this fashion-an Arab conquest of the Land, a terrible persecution of the Israelis through 3½ years, what will happen to the faith of those in the New Israel who hitherto have had no room in their vision of the future for God-controlled disasters of this kind?

The reader is reminded once again that it is the possibility of such bewilderment, which has led to the writing of this book. Traditional expectations may prove to be well-founded. But they may not! Far too many Last Day prophecies have gone unexplained.

Not a few readers will feel like coming back with a tu quoque: what about the other highly important events that we look for? The northern confederacy? The coming of the Lord in glory- when and where? The gathering of the saints to meet him? The resurrection and judgment? And so on.

An attempt will be made to put these together, with proper Biblical support, in the next chapter. But before he begins it, the reader is asked to come to it with a critical but open and unprejudiced mind. The writer knows his own weakness in this field, and is constantly trying to make allowances for it.

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