According to news reports, Iran test fired two ballistic missiles early Wednesday, March 9. Painted on each of the missiles in Hebrew was the phrase, "Israel must be wiped out."
Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the head of Iran's Revolutionary Guard's aerospace division, claimed the tests were made as a warning to Israel that Iran has the capability to strike Israel with missiles: "The 1240-mile range of our missiles is to confront the Zionist regime. Israel is surrounded by Islamic countries and it will not last long in a war. It will collapse even before being hit by these missiles."
Bombastic statements and exaggeration are common in Middle Eastern countries--you might recall Saddam Hussein's threat that if the United States were to attack Iraq, it would lead to the "mother of all wars"--but that in no way lessens the reality that it is the stated goal of Islamic nations to destroy Israel.
To those of us familiar with Biblical prophecy, that comes as no surprise. Israel is Satan's primary target: he hates Israel as only he can, because it represents God's plan of redemption for sinning man. As scripture reminds us, "he knows that his time is short", and it is evident that events are rapidly moving toward the fulfillment of prophecy.
Will Israel be able to "last long in a war"? Scripture indicates that Israel will be attacked from all sides, and that she will be on the very brink of the destruction claimed by Hajizadeh, but that will be the point at which Jesus Himself will return to earth and rescue Israel from its enemies: "Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS" (Revelation 19:15-16).
How close are we to the Lord's return and the fulfillment of prophecy regarding Israel? "Many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all all nations for My name's sake...and because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold...And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all nations, and then the end will come" (Matthew 24:5-14).
The Lord then went on to say (Matthew 24:32-33): "Learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things (i.e., the very things we see occurring in the Middle East today), know that it is near--at the doors!"
There is no way to put a date on His return--the Lord said that no man knows the hour--but surely it is rapidly approaching. The most important consideration for us, however, ought not be when is He coming, but Peter's question: "Wherefore seeing that all these things shall come to pass, what manner of men ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness?" (2 Peter 3:11).