COVENANT: Israel-Vatican relations

elkin-635x357Many are wondering when the whispers will cease and an agreement will be announced concerning Israel-Vatican relations.   Even though these relationship discussions have been taking place for around twenty years, we hear that soon the culmination of all these talks will be announced. The hushed conversations have been taking place for quite some time now, and the suspense is building.  Let’s take a look at some of the headlines from Catholic, Jewish, Arabic, and secular news sources over the past couple of years. 

Twenty years ago in 1993, we read in the article at this link the headline “Israel and Vatican Agree on Diplomatic Relations”.

RSL-PopeFrancis-3In December 2009, Ayalon led high-level diplomatic discussions with the Holy See concerning Church properties and taxes, leading to an agreement in early 2012 between Israel and the Vatican in which the latter agreed to waive its demand to receive sovereignty over The Cenacle, the alleged location of the Last Supper, on Jerusalem’s Mount Zion. Israel, in return, agreed to consider giving the Church access to the site and is considering a leasing option. As part of the agreement, the Vatican will for the first time pay a reduced property tax for its large amount of assets in Israel.

400_300_pope_francis_2541160b_In February 4, 2012, an article titled “Don’t bow to the Vatican – Op-ed: State of Israel should not be giving up its sovereignty over holy sites in Jerusalem” was published.

Then almost a year later in January 30, 2013, an article “Israel, Vatican near historic relationship upgrade” was shared by the Jerusalem Post.

On February 01, 2013, the article “Exclusive: A Seat for the Pope at King David’s Tomb” emerged.

1178077502A few days later on February 16, 2013, we read that “Jordan condemns alleged Israel-Vatican deal over Jerusalem“.

About a month later on April 25th, 2013, we learned that “Peres and Pope to Team up for Peace Process Resurrection“. 

In May 28, 2013, a Catholic publication stated “Vatican, Israel near agreement on pact after 20 years of negotiations“.  On the same day, the Vatican Insider had a similar article called “Vatican and Israel reach agreement on taxes and the Cenacle“.  Yet, we still don’t have a signed agreement.

Temple-Mount-Dome-of-the-Rock-631On June 13, 2013, the article “Imminent: Israel’s Capitulation to the Vatican” forecast large concessions by Israel to the Vatican.

A month later, in July 8, 2013, we again read in the Art Newspaper an article stating “Israel and Vatican close to signing Holy Land accord”.  On the same day, an article was published stating the same thing “Israel and Vatican close to signing Holy Land accord“.

g9510.20_Pope.Cover.inddA few weeks later on July 25, 2013, we see some independent commentary by a YouTube blogger stating a radical thought: “Israel to give Pope “Legal Custody” of Temple Mount & Holy Land“.  Would Israel really give the Pope such power of the Temple Mount and Holy Land?  Would that be a way of carefully wresting the land away from the Muslims?  My first thought was that this is probably just an independent blogger trying to get ratings or who perhaps wasn’t accurate with his information, but this just makes everyone wonder even more what is really being stated behind closed doors.  For example, would Israel give the Pope control over the Temple Mount in exchange for them allowing Israel to rebuild their Temple?  All of these thoughts are probably the result of everyone beginning to imagine things due to the long wait in finding out the results of the talks, but stranger things have happened.  

arch_of_titusAt this moment, there are cries from the independent group known as The Temple Mount Faithful who are demanding that the Pope give back the implements of temple worship and other treasures of war that they stole from Jerusalem back in A.D. 70 as seen in the article at this link.  On the other hand, there’s the Temple Institute who took upon themselves the responsibility of creating brand new Temple implements, so they aren’t dependent upon Rome to return their ancient ones, and this group is also ready to move at a second’s notice to rebuild their Jerusalem Temple on the Temple Mount as seen at the site at this link.  When will we find out the latest news on these talks?  Each month, as seen in the articles above, it seems the talks have ended, but then the wait continues.

TempleAnd then there are those who attempt to understand Biblical prophecy and who put forth theories that the Beast (seen as Rome in Scripture) will make a covenant with Israel in the end of time, and they believe Israel will rebuild their temple.  Their thoughts are taken from the following two passages of Scripture:

“Then I was given a measuring rod like a staff, and I was told, “Rise and measure the temple of God and the altar and those who worship there, but do not measure the court outside the temple; leave that out, for it is given over to the nations, and they will trample the holy city for forty-two months. And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.” … And when they have finished their testimony, the beast that rises from the bottomless pit will make war on them and conquer them and kill them”   – Revelation 11:1-3, 7

“And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; And the people of the prince who is to come Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, And till the end of the war desolations are determined. Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; But in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, Even until the consummation, which is determined, Is poured out on the desolate.”  – Daniel 9:26-27

Pope Francis shakes hand of Israeli President Peres during private meeting at the VaticanIn this latter passage, we see three things:

  1. The Messiah is “cut off, but not for Himself” (many scholars agree this is Jesus)
  2. After Messiah is cut off, then a certain people destroys the Temple (many scholars believe this people were the Romans and that this took place in A.D. 70)
  3. A prince of this people [the Romans] will make a covenant with many for seven years [i.e. seven weeks which in the Hebrew is “seven sevens” and can be translated as seven weeks or seven years; the Jews also had sabbatical years].
  4. This prince will break his covenant in the middle of the seven years and turn upon Israel and commit the abomination of desolation (just as Antiochus IV did the same during the time of the Maccabean wars by setting up an idol in the Jewish Temple and sacrificing a pig on the altar).

lif9newmIs this where all of these talks are headed?  Or is this just the start of a relationship with Israel that serves as a toe-hold and which might turn into such an event in the future?  Is this the Vatican’s way of saying “hello Israel” or is it “goodbye Israel”? Or is it a way of taking land away from the Muslim Waqf?  Or is this really just twenty years of talks for something far less sinister such as tax exemptions and land leases?

Regardless of what theories may abound over these talks, the obvious fact is that most of the world is waiting with great anticipation to see the outcome of these talks once an agreement is announced.  How much longer will we wait?