Israel is the middle of the world, and the world's war drums beat loudly around her

Israel is the center of the world. We know this because in Genesis 12:3 God said to Abraham- "I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." Israel is the lens through which God judges nations. What happens to Israel affects the entire world. (Above, B√ľnting clover leaf map. A 1581 woodcut, Magdeburg. Jerusalem is in the center, surrounded by Europe, Asia and Africa.)

Other nations and cities have incorrectly named themselves the center of the world. When Rome was at its height as a city and as an empire, it called itself the center of the world and even marked the spot with a tower and a plaque. The Romans installed the marker dubbed "navel of the city of Rome" (Umbilicus Urbis Romaen) in the Forum, from which all distances to the ends of the civilized world were marked. It was mile zero. This marker was one of the first things I had wanted to see when I visited Rome, because my travels around Italy, even over obscure and distant dirt back roads, invariably led to a road sign pointing to Rome. It is true, in Italy, all roads lead to Rome.

Ecuador is named after the equator, which runs through the country. A museum complex marks the spot and it is called "Mitad Del Mundo" or Middle of the World. Wikipedia says its 30-meter-tall monument, built between 1979 and 1982, was constructed to mark the point where the equator passes through the country in the geodetic datum in use in Ecuador at that time. I was one of the thousands of goofy tourists who have stood with one foot on one side of the painted red line representing the Equator, and the other foot on the other side, laughing while someone takes a photo of me. It was an interesting place, and I really liked the red line of the physical representation of the middle of the world. (photo by Elizabeth Prata)

But Jerusalem is really the navel of the world. In the Middle Ages it was even depicted that way. Did you know, that the Hereford Mappa Mundi, drawn in circa 1300, depicted Jerusalem as the center of the world? In the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem there is also an omphalos, Greek word for belly button or navel. The existence of this stone is based upon the medieval thought that Jerusalem is the spiritual if not geographical center of the world.

In all of history, there's never been a distinct people group who dwelled outside of a national homeland for thousands of years yet retained their identity like the Jewish people. There has never been a people on earth restored to their homeland after dozens of generations. There has never been a case where generations upon generations who forgot their own language and let it die, had it restored to the entire nation. No people, that is, except for God's people in God's land. (Left, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, with the omphalos (navel) urn in the foreground)

This tiny nation is mighty in many ways, because her very existence has generated hate and war since her birth. Just existing provokes the world into hating her. And again, war will come to her but this time it will be one of the last times. We know from prophecy that the Gog-Magog war will be a surprise attack on Israel as stated in Ezekiel 38-39. We know that Damascus will be destroyed (Isaiah 17:1) indicating some kind of war-like event that obliterates the world's oldest continuously inhabited city. Psalm 83 has variously been interpreted as either an intercessory prayer about a war, or a foretelling of a last days war. And Armageddon, the last war, will occur. The list of wars is long. There will be so many wars that peace does not exist anywhere from the moment the 2nd seal is opened in Rev. 6:4 when peace is taken from the earth, until Jesus returns to restore peace Himself.

Israel is actively engaging in preparations for war. Today Jack Kelley noted of the Gaza skirmish linked below, "I think the event that could determine whether this is a birth pang or something bigger is if Hizbollah opens up a northern front on behalf of Syria. If so it could develop into the fulfillment of Psalm 83. Gaza was originally part of the Land grant to Abraham (Genesis 15:18) but was occupied by the Philistines until the time of David. This is one of the reasons why there was so much resistance in Israel to abandoning it, and why it had been the source of such trouble since." The war drums are beating loudly today, as the hooves of the Second Horse pound down toward earth.

Israeli raid as Gaza conflict escalates
At least three Palestinians were killed and several more injured in Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip late on Thursday night. The attacks came in response to a barrage of mortar and rocket fire by Gaza-based militants, and marked a serious escalation in the violence between Israel and the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

Israel to simulate biological warfare attack
An exercise simulating a response to a biological warfare attack will be carried out in the Dan region next week. The exercise, which will be the largest of its kind in Israel's history, will be carried out in Tel Aviv, Ramat Gan, and Holon and aims to evaluate the ability of the Home Front, the medical services, rescue teams and the municipal authorities to respond in the conditions created by a biological catastrophe caused either by terrorists or by accident.

IDF to blanket population with gas masks
The Home Front Command is planning to begin distribution of individual protection kits, i.e. gas masks, to every citizen starting in late February, according to a cabinet decision taken last week. Originally, just over 60 percent of the population were to receive kits, but a decision to extend that protection to the whole country means the production of the necessary equipment has been stepped-up, and another billion shekels is needed to fund to the endeavor. ... Barak and Vilnai both made decisions based on strategic assessments which say there may be an escalation of tensions in the coming years, including the firing of rockets and missiles against Israel.

Tehran Plans a Major Military Exercise
Iranian media on Sunday reported Tehran will conduct a large-scale defensive military exercise next month, coinciding with what government officials now say is a deadline for the West to respond to its counteroffer to a nuclear-fuel deal.

US preparing for possible Iran conflict
The US does not want to see confrontation with Iran but is still preparing its military for that possibility, America's top uniformed officer said Thursday. "We've looked to do all we can to ensure that conflict doesn't break out there, while at the same time preparing forces, as we do for many contingencies that we understand might occur," Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said during an appearance at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Above, another medieval map depicting Jerusalem as the center of the world. Note the nation to the north, stated as 'Gog and Magog'. Jesus said in Matthew 12:6 that the birth pangs of the end time would be characterized by 'wars and rumors of wars' and that entire 7 year tribulation that comes after the birth pangs is one long series of successive wars that kill half the planet's people. Satan comes slouching towards Gomorrah, beating his drums of war, and many are heeding his summons.