Using language that mirrors that of “end times” prophecy debates in the Christian world, Israelis are increasingly wondering what the mounting turmoil in the Middle East is ultimately leading to.
A number of prominent rabbis have come forward with their interpretations of what is going on, and the casual observer would be forgiven for initially mistaking their remarks as coming from an Evangelical Christian.
“People have come to me and said that it’s ‘Gog and Magog’. We cannot know. But it’s probable that any unrest that God creates shows that the Messiah is coming,” wrote Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky on the Israeli religious Internet portal Haredim.
Rabbi Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz acknowledged that current events are a sign of the times, and that the Messiah is likely coming soon, but also stated that the regional unrest is God’s way of humbling the prideful leaderships of Israel and the West.
“God goes and humiliates (those feeling) sinful pride,” Lefkowitz wrote.
He explained that first God dealt with Israel by allowing the recent Carmel Forest blaze. “There was this little fire here, and a state that thought that it is big and strong suddenly needed help from the entire world. Not a war, nothing special, just a small fire.”
But Israel and its allies didn’t get the message, suggested Lefkowitz.
“When they continued to think that they are smart, and see everything and understand what to do and how to do it, God came and disturbed the nations, and here they are, scared again because they could not predict such a big thing,” the rabbi stated.
“God is laughing at them, waiting to see when they will understand and become wiser,” wrote Lefkowitz in clear reference to Psalm 2:
“Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? …The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them.” (Psalm 2:1, 4)
Israel’s ultra-Orthodox community is a small minority. But being such a small country, the upheavals around are causing just about all Israelis to feel a bit apprehensive about the future. As such, the nation’s largest daily newspapers have been picking up on the rabbis’ explanations of events and broadcasting them far and wide.