So reads the heading of one newspaper article after the dramatic assassination of Israel’s Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin on Sunday morning, Adelaide time, 5 November 1995. If thenews was stunning to us, in Israel the effect was devastating. Many spoke of it as the worst event in the short history of the nation of Israel. Rabin had been the broker of the peace process particu-larly with the Palestinians; a process leading to the amazing sight of Rabin as Prime Minister of Israel shaking hands with Yassir Arafat, leader of the Palestinians on the White House lawn.

Most Israelis, with the exception of the extremists, assassin Yigal Amir among them, had trusted Rabin to lead the nation along the thorny path to peace. Their trust lay in Rabin’s well earned reputation as “Mr Security”. He was the architect, perhaps even more so than the more charismatic Moshe Dayan, of the stunning victory of the Six Day War in June 1967. He was the man who advised his soldiers to “break bones” in dealing with the uprisings in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Israelis believed, and it seemed with good reason, that Rabin more than any other leader would chart a course to peace which would not in the end jeopardise the security and integrity of the State of Israel.

The Jewish extremists branded him a traitor to Israel. His wife related how, every Friday afternoon, his opponents would wait in the street by his home to welcome him back taunting him as a traitor, threatening every week to kill him. They even railed against Mrs Rabin, on one occasion saying that she too would die, with her husband, in the same manner as Mussolini and his mistress had been killed by the Italian partisans in the dying days of the Second World War.

 Peace In The Middle East

 Where now then for peace in the Middle East? Commentators differ as we would expect, but most express the view that, if anything, the impetus for peace will be stronger. Shimon Peres, having taken over as Prime Minister asserted so. “We attended the funeral of the man who led the peace process, not the funeral of that process” was one of his comments. William Rees-Mogg writing for the London Times penned an article under the heading, “Charisma of Assassination will Advance the Cause of Peace”. The attendance of the leaders of Jordan and Egypt at Rabin’s funeral, despite the security risks, was a telling comment in itself of their respect for Rabin and their commitment to the Middle East peace process.

Scripturally, what are we looking for? We look for Israel to be a nation “at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates” (Ezek 38:11). We look for a timeleading up to “the day of the Lord”, “when they shall say, Peace and safety!” (1 Thess 5: 2–3). We anticipate that Egypt will stand with the West and Israel, not the Gogian confederacy, for “He (the king of the North) shall stretch forth his hand upon the countries: and the land of Egypt shall not escape(Dan 11: 42). How interesting then that Mubarak of Egypt, who had refused all previous requests to visit Israel, was prepared to risk antagonising the Muslim extremists of his country to go to Jerusalem on this occasion.

We anticipate a closer relationship, too, between Jordan and Israel and the countries of the Arabian Peninsula, and again it was interesting to see the response of Jordan, Qatar and Oman, all expressing support for the ongoing peace process.

Above all, how significant to note yet again the power of that tiny nation in the centre of the earth to rivet the attention of the world. What other nation, scarce five million strong, could stop the world in its tracks and change the agenda of every world leader of note in a few moments of time. How many more warnings do we need; how many more, if any at all, will we get? We live “in the days of the Son of man” (Luke 17: 26). How long before “the days” are at an end and we reach “the day when the Son of man is revealed”?

 Art Thou A King Then?

 This writer was struck by the circumstances of the news of Rabin’s assassination. It came as we here in Adelaide were preparing to go to our meeting places to attend the Memorial Meeting and remember the sacrifice of our Lord. It struck me that there was, at that very moment, a vacancy as it were on the “throne” of Israel. Pilate had asked ere they led our Lord to Golgotha, “Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world…” (John 18: 37). So there is no vacancy! There is a king, one born to be such, with unimpeachable credentials: “Declared to be the Son of God with power… by the resurrection from the dead” (Rom 1: 4).

Signs In Europe

 How long before he claims that throne? We know not, except that time is short. The Middle East in turmoil again. Bosnian peace negotiations conducted at Wright-Patterson Air Force basein Dayton, Ohio; negotiations that may well see Russian peace-keeping troops involved in Central Europe. Russia itself is adrift with its President, Boris Yeltsin, in poor health.

Indeed the situation in Russia may be more precarious than many realise, with one commentator reporting as follows: “While President Boris Yeltsin languishes in a hospital bed after another suspected heart attack, his old foes are enjoying a spectacular renaissance. Russia’s Communists will celebrate the anniversary of the October Revolution on 7 November with a great deal of relish, because 78 years after the Bolsheviks seized power, the Communists once again seem poised to take control… Their triumph in December’s elections is already viewed as a fait accompli rather than a nightmarish but improbable possibility…. If the communists and their allies get more than the 226 seats needed to form a majority in the Duma in December, they will immediately repeal the 1991 dismantling of the Soviet Union and then call on the newly independent republics to unite ‘voluntarily’.”

On top of all this, there is renewed pressure within Britain for a political approach apart from the European Community. Surely there is cause in all these signs, for us to sharpen our focus and be ready, for “now is our salvation nearer than when we believed”.