Not that it makes any difference to me, since all Biblical prophecy (and other prophecy) is questionable in my mind.
I'm not religious, and happy that way. If, because of that, I'm tossed into the fires of hell during the End Times, so be it.
I identify myself as an Agnostic. I believe in secular government and society not a religious one.
I believe that everyone has a right to believe in their own religion and a responsibility to respect the rights of others to believe in their chosen religion, creed, value system or whatever.
So, that said, I went on a little exploration mission to find out what the thinking was in terms of the Middle East situation and the religious groups involved. I wanted moderate, not extremist views and got those in abundance.
The following quotes pretty much sums up the Biblical Prophecy surrounding Israel:
1. Genesis. The Beginning.The stage was set nearly 4000 years ago by God. A war that will destroy one-fourth of the world's population is about to take place. This war is outlined in Ezekiel 38 and other parts of the Bible. Russia, along with other allies, including some of the Arab nations, will soon invade Israel. The stage for what will happen soon was set long ago with Ishmael and Isaac. The descendants of Abram and Ishmael (which include some of the Arabs) and the descendants of Abraham and Isaac (the Jews) will soon clash one last time. Bad feelings have always existed between the two, for nearly 4000 years. It may be said that this is the longest running feud in the history of the world. It appears that this seemingly everlasting struggle between the seed of Ishmael and the seed of Isaac cannot cease, until one or the other is destroyed. No amount of diplomacy can change the conflict that God has set up. This coming war will take place during the Tribulation.
2. The Christian Part. Revelations. The End Times. RAPTURE is a term used to describe the removal from the earth of all living people that have been born-again as evidenced by their fruits. Just prior to the Tribulation coming about, the Rapture will take place. The number that will be raptured will be far fewer than most people might think. The Bible unmistakably portrays the raptured saints in heaven before the throne of God, prior to the Antichrist coming forth and the Tribulation beginning. The Scripture tells us, in the twinkling of an eye, we shall be changed and be with Jesus in the air. 1 Cor 15:51,52-WE SHALL NOT ALL SLEEP, BUT WE SHALL ALL BE CHANGED, IN A MOMENT IN THE TWINKLING OF AN EYE, AT THE LAST TRUMP: FOR THE TRUMPET SHALL SOUND; 1 Thes 4:16,17-AND THE DEAD IN CHRIST SHALL RISE FIRST, THEN WE WHICH ARE ALIVE AND REMAIN SHALL BE CAUGHT UP TOGETHER WITH THEM IN THE CLOUDS. We may be asleep, immediately we will be with Jesus. All the unbelievers, the lukewarm Christians, and those that did not obey the Gospel will be left to face the Tribulation.
Now, while it sums it up it doesn't really explain it.
In my explanation, I'm skipping the inflammatory parts that get people worked up and sticking to what might be referred to as the basic facts if one were to believe the Bible was a historical document which is debatable, but possible.
Essentially, Christians, Jews, and Muslims believe in the Old Testament which indicates the following:
Abraham had two sons: Isaac and Ishmael. The sons had different mothers and so were half brothers.
Isaac, whose mother was Jewish, was the progenitor of the Jews and Ishmael, whose mother was Egyptian, was the progenitor of the Muslims.
God, it seems, offered a Covenant to Abraham, Isaac and their "seed" the Land of Canaan in exchange for their worship and obedience.
He offered a Great Nation to the "seed" of Ishmael but doesn't specify land, although the term Great Nation could make the issue of land debatable.
This comes from Genesis 16 and 17.
The Christians, according to the Bible, were Jews who believed that Jesus was the Son Of God, and that he will return as per Revelations.
The Muslims, aside from being the "seed" of Ishmael, believe that Jesus was a Messenger from God, as was Muhammed, and that there will be more Messengers Of God to come.
Muslims End Time beliefs appear to be similar to the Christian belief except that everyone will be converted to Islam during the Tribulation by Jesus.
Now let's assume that we believe all of this and let's assume that we believe in the concept of Prophecy.
If we believe in the concept of Prophecy then we also have to accept that once a Prophecy is known, that future defined by that Prophecy can be changed. After all, isn't that the purpose of Prophecy, to act as a warning, an alert, so that people can change their behavior and avoid the terrible consequences predicted.
This possibility to change outcomes predicted by Prophecy is supported by the biblical fact that God gave humanity free will.
Since humanity has free will, and therefore the ability to change prophetic outcomes, the only wild card becomes God and his plan, part of which is to send Messengers, Prophets, Messiahs to state his will, depending on which religious option you've selected.
The war part, the killing and fighting, etc. doesn't have to happen because the religious leaders could choose to exercise this free will and simply work out solutions which would accommodate all of the religious factions and then everyone can just happily sit and wait for God to do his part and send his Messengers, Prophets, Messiahs.
The stories that I took the time to read, all provided options, choices to the person. The stories I read also repeatedly blessed both Isaac and his "seed" as well as Ishmael and his "seed". So, in fact, God has blessed both the Jews and the Muslims.
Presumably, the End Times scenarios are warnings that if humanity doesn't do A then C will happen, but they have the option.
Since Revelations essentially says that the Messiah, Prophet, Son Of God, will take charge and handle the conversion process, it's not really up to believers to do anything except "be righteous and believe passionately", so that you can go with Jesus, or suffer and possibly die during the Tribulations. However, even here, if you are strong and "overcome" you can survive the Tribulations. It's all about choices.
There is also another option to consider, the one accepted by many moderate Christians, that in fact, all of the prophecies in the Old Testament were satisfied in the New Testament and are not in fact occurring today. Just thought I toss this option out there :).
Anyway, assuming that you believe in the above, I've tried to come up with a solution that accounts for those religious beliefs, and to my knowledge would satisfy those concerns. It's also a solution, that I, as an Agnostic and Secularist could accept.
So, here's my solution for the Middle East:
- Take the land that was originally Palestine after WWII.
- Call it "The Holy Land".
- Establish a fully Secular Democratic Government in which everyone, Muslim, Jews, Christians, Secularists, etc. participate equally and democratically.
- Establish a Religious Authority over Sacred Institutions like the Temple Mount which would be under the direction of a Committee consisting of internationally recognized religious authorities from each of the concerned religions. The Pope, an internationally recognized Imam, an internationally recognized Rabbi. Or, alternatively several recognized representatives from each religion to satisfy the different flavors each.
Would this be so difficult? The Jews are restored to their homeland, and the Muslims are restored to their homeland. The Christians have a religious say in what's going on? Everyone should be happy.
The Muslims and Jews are brothers, according to the Bible.
And, if one believes the Bible, the Middle East situation smacks of sibling rivalry.
As a Mom, the only thing I have left to say is:
Children, Stop Fighting, and Learn To Get Along ... For All Our Sakes.