Large quantities of oil and natural gas have been discovered in Israel. So why is this important? Israel is only a small country about the size of the state of New Jersey, but it is at the center of the world. The world revolves around it. Could these discoveries be another example of a continuing increase in knowledge fulfilling God’s prophecy?
An understanding of the significance of these oil and gas discoveries requires a review of some biblical history. The following Bible verses describe God’s promises to reveal and provide tremendous wealth for Israel in the Last Days. The passages below were probably passed on orally from generation to generation and then written down several thousand years ago.
Deuteronomy 33:24 (As said of Asher, the 8th son of Jacob)
“More blessed than sons is Asher. May he be favored by his brothers, and may he dip his foot in oil.”
“From the God of your father who helps you, and by the Almighty who blesses you with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lies beneath.
Deuteronomy 33:13 (As said of Joseph)
“Blessed of the Lord be his land, with the choice things of heaven, with the dew, and from the deep lying beneath.
“They will call peoples to the mountain. There they will offer righteous sacrifices, for they will draw out the abundance of the seas, and the hidden treasures of the sand.
“The Lord alone guided him, (Israel) and there was no foreign god with him. He made him ride on the high places of the earth, and he ate the produce of the field. And he made him suck honey from the rock, and oil from the flinty rock.”
“I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden wealth of secret places, so that you may know that it is I, the Lord, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name.”
In Daniel 12:4 the angel Michael told Daniel, "Conceal these words and seal up the book until the end of time; many will go back and forth, and knowledge will increase.” When this verse is linked with those above, I believe it shows how God is fulfilling prophecy and more and more rapidly unveiling His plan for the world as the time of His return draws nearer.
Drilling for oil in Israel was first done in the late 1940s in an area south of Tel Aviv near Ashkelon. In 1952, in order to attract other exploration to provide for Israel’s energy needs, Israel’s parliament enacted a bill into law that gave attractive incentives to companies which would come to Israel and drill. These incentives included low taxes and low royalty payments to the government. Oil was discovered in 1955, but the size of the discovery was not significant. Other small oil companies continued to drill. They discovered a few oil fields, but these, too, were not commercially viable.
Arab states like Saudi Arabia, Iraq, etc. have always boycotted the sale of oil to Israel because of their great animosity toward the Jews. With no energy source of its own, Israel was forced to import oil from Russia, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, and coal from South Africa.
In 1967 Egypt, Jordan, and Syria attacked Israel in the conflict called The Six Day War. Against all odds Israel won decisively, but the conflict depleted Israel’s armaments. Because the United States resupplied arms to Israel, the oil-producing Arab nations retaliated against the United States by decreasing oil production. This led to increases in the price of oil and resulted in the 1973 oil shortage crisis in the United States. It also intensified Israel’s interest in finding its own oil supply. The country presently imports 98% of its energy needs.
In addition to drilling on land, exploration for oil expanded off the coast of Israel into the waters of the Mediterranean. In the 1980s Israel tried government-owned drilling but gave up and returned to a policy of letting private companies do the work of exploration. This attracted even more drilling.
Meanwhile, drilling technology improved. Horizontal drilling versus vertical drilling was further developed and more widely used. There are advantages and disadvantages of both types, but horizontal drilling has made it possible to drill where vertical drilling would not have been feasible. Additionally, new ways to extract oil from shale were devised. Between 1998 and 2008 some other oil discoveries were made, but these were small in terms of the amount of oil that was produced.
The discovery of an onshore oil site was made in 2010 in northern Israel by the exploration company Givot Olam. The company based its search for oil in Israel on Scripture. This Meged 5 field site, located near Rosh Ha’ayin, has a potential of huge quantities of oil. Drilling continues to develop a commercially viable way to extract it.
Further advances were made when the process by which natural gas could be liquefied was invented. Liquefaction of natural gas made it easier to transport and less susceptible to sabotage attempts. In early 2009 a monster find of natural gas was discovered fifty-five miles west of the port of Haifa in the Mediterranean. It was called the Tamar field. This was followed a few months later by a find twice as large in the Mediterranean between Israel and Cyprus called Leviathan.
To put these discoveries into perspective, they are nearly twice the size of what the British have found in the North Sea. The Texas-based company, Noble Energy, has since discovered a gargantuan deposit of natural gas in the Leviathan Field, buried a mile beneath the ocean floor. This Israeli find, estimated at some 16 trillion cubic feet, is large enough that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commented in a CNN interview with Piers Morgan in March, 2011, that Israel might forego building nuclear reactors and rely on generations of natural energy instead.
Besides these two major offshore discoveries, plans are being made to exploit Israel’s massive shale oil deposits in the Shfela Basin, located about thirty miles southwest of Jerusalem. Just the gas finds here could make Israel self-sufficient in natural gas for decades. If successful, Israel would be catapulted into the energy superpower league. Israel could become a major exporter of energy!
If so, Saudi Arabia and other oil exporters have plenty to worry about. Until now, extortion and the threat of a boycott in retaliation for loyalty to Israel have allowed them to dictate foreign policy to other countries including the United States. Recent changes and government instability in many of the Arab countries in the Middle East have caused the world’s oil supply to be unstable.
Israel and Lebanon have not been able to agree on geographical borders and a territorial squabble has developed for the finds discovered in the Mediterranean. Backed by Syria, Iran and other Arab countries, including the terrorist organization of Hezbollah, Lebanon has laid claim to the discoveries.
Additionally, Israel’s Parliament has retroactively rewritten the 1952 law resulting in increased taxes and royalties. Drilling and exploration companies are not pleased with this.
God has promised the land of Israel great riches from the “deep”. These discoveries of oil and natural gas may fulfill these promises to Israel made in the Old Testament. The significance of these discoveries and developments cannot be denied or diminished in their importance, and I believe they are a direct result of the increase in knowledge as predicted in Daniel 12:4.