Two struggles are tearing at the hope of those who dream of world peace and the brotherhood of mankind. One has the world's attention riveted on the little nation of Israel and the tiny city of Jerusalem.
The other is a quiet tug of war over soul winning. Though seemingly unrelated, the future of both efforts are hopelessly intertwined.
The major players in the Jerusalem problem are seeking a political solution but they know full well that it really involves a collision of religions. On the surface it appears that there are only two protagonists in the fray, Judaism and Islam. But Satan is happily orchestrating a third party, the false Roman "church" behind the scenes.
For centuries the popes have conspired for control of Jerusalem. After World War I, when world leaders began to think globally, the Vatican began pressing for the "internationalization" of the "holy sites" in Palestine. The League of Nations, (forerunner to the United Nations) was recommended as the administrating authority.
But the idea didn't fly with the superpowers and prophecy was fulfilled when the Jews fought for and won a tiny strip of Palestine in 1948. While Israel and the Palestinians were fighting house-to-house over the land, the pope, the American government and the United Nations waged a diplomatic battle to establish UN control over Jerusalem.
Israel won both contests, but for the next 45 years the papacy lobbied hard, but without success, at every peace conference following each skirmish between the Israelis and Arabs. At each point, the pope's world-wide propaganda web attempted to cast Israel as the villain.
The Vatican stonewalled Israel by refusing formal diplomatic relations with Tel Aviv until the 1990s. And only then after Israel had agreed to a militarily dangerous plan to trade land for peace. Palestinian leader Yasar Arafat has been a frequent visitor at the Vatican.
World opinion has been affected. A recent vote in the UN General Assembly condemning Israel's building of apartments in East Jerusalem came out 134 to 3 against Israel. Only the US, Israel and the tiny Pacific island nation of Micronesia opposed the resolution.
And the pope's propaganda machine rolls on. The National Catholic Reporter, a major US weekly, carried articles in two consecutive issues in April condemning Israel for human rights violations against the Palestinians.
One headline declares: "Lovely Jerusalem is Haunted by Injustice." Calling Prime Minister Netanyahu a liar, the paper accuses Israel of "systematic and deliberate discrimination against the Palestinian population of East Jerusalem," as well as torturing to death political prisoners. Palestinians are "dehumanized" by "rampant" injustice.
Israel is characterized as a Goliath at which the impotent Palestinians can only throw stones with their slingshots. Such pictures in an official Roman Catholic newspaper remove any doubt which side of the conflict the pope is on.
Twenty-five hundred years ago Zechariah wrote (12:3): "And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it."
When Zechariah wrote, the city lay in ruins. Only God could have seen that it would one day be the center of the world's attention.
But "God's time clock," as Jerusalem is sometimes called by students of Bible prophecy, is close to striking midnight when soul winners can no longer work.
In fact, it is ironic that, in spite of the staunch support of Israel by Bible believers, the Israeli Knesset (parliament) recently entertained a bill to outlaw soulwinning in that country. If passed, anyone who used a religious tract as "an inducement to religious conversion" could spend a year in jail.
The proposed law was introduced by radical Orthodox Jews whose religious position is similar to the Pharisees in Jesus' day. However, it was passed in a preliminary reading in the Knesset by a vote of 21 to 7.
The wording is so vague that "The bill has caused deep foreboding among both Jewish and Arab believers" in Israel. One analyst declared: "Such a bill, if made law, would render illegal almost all evangelical activity in Israel."
Israel today is not a lot different than when Jesus was crucified. Many different political factions jockey for power but most of them have no regard for their Saviour and a few are violently opposed to anyone promoting the gospel. But Bible believers must continue to stand on God's command to bless Israel even when "blindness in part" has come to them.
Israel was God's first ambassadors chosen to show the world how He would bless a nation that would obey him. The Bible-believing church is God's New Testament ambassadors, declaring to the world Satan's defeat through the Cross of Christ.
Together they both receive the full focus of Satan's fury. His strategy is to create a false religion and maneuver to place it in control of the government.
Missionaries in Israel are subjected to much the same situation as in other countries with strong connections between religion and government.