Lately it has grown increasingly difficult to keep up with all that is happening. Bible Prophecy is being fulfilled right before our very eyes! This time we are returning to our series on Israel’s prophetic future. We looked at their covenant right to the land in some depth. We looked at the dark days ahead that the Jewish people face in the coming Great Tribulation period. During that time they will face their only defeat since obtaining Statehood in May of 1948. This defeat will come at the hands of the Man of Sin, the Antichrist. Even then though, they will be preserved and protected as they are given a place of refuge at what many scholars see as the rock city of Petra.
It needs to be clearly understood that God has a Covenant with these people, the land of Israel, and the city of Jerusalem. This cannot be said about any other group of people on the face of the earth. Someone may ask, “What about America?” While I certainly believe that the Lord raised up this great Country of ours, and that He has used this Country as the number one voice to take the Gospel to the world for many years now, still He only has a Covenant with one nation, and that Nation is Israel.
Please understand that I am not referring to any type of, “Dual Covenant” theology. The Covenant that the Lord has with Israel regards their existence as a people, their inheritance and right to the Promised Land, and their assignment to bring the Messiah, the “Seed”, to the world, and to proclaim the Good News to the farthest regions of the Earth. Due to their rejection of Messiah, they have been temporarily set aside in the great plan of God while the Church now takes the Gospel to the World. In the coming Kingdom Age they will again occupy their proper role and fulfill their prophetic destiny, as a believing remnant will as the Prophet declared, look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.[Zechariah 12:10b See also, Ezekiel 20:35, 36]
Still there are dark days ahead for this Nation and her people. This tiny nation, and specifically the city of Jerusalem, is situated at the very center of the world, and at the heart of Bible prophecy; and this all by the design of God Himself. [See Ezek. 5:5] There is no other people or nation who rise up and lie down everyday with the fear of being attacked by their enemies, and now with more and more of the rogue nations surrounding Israel possessing nuclear capabilities, the fear and possibility of their utter annihilation has never been greater. The “Madman of Iran”, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; has repeatedly stated his desire to “Wipe Israel off the face of the map”, and you can rest assured this is no mere rhetoric or saber rattling.
While many, if not most Americans are consumed with “Pop Culture”, and this would sadly include a good percentage of the Christian Church; the entire Middle East region has become a veritable “Smoking Cauldron” that at some point will boil over. What will the boiling point be? What will be the tipping point, if you will? While I or no one else really can conclusively answer that question, I find it interesting that there have been several what we could refer to as, “power vacuums” opened in the nations of prophecy. First, it was the capture of Saddam Hussein and his eventual trial and death sentence for heinous war crimes. The United States invaded Iraq with the game plan apparently being his overthrow and the establishment of a democracy. While Hussein was deposed, there never has been a truly functioning democracy even though the Iraqi people elected their first President in a free election, Jalal Talabani. There never will be democracy there or in any other Islamic nation. Why? Because Islam and democracy do not mix. They are diametrically opposed one to another. They are philosophically polar opposites.
Tragically, thousands of Americans have lost their lives and billions, yes, trillions of tax payer dollars have been spent on an ill-planned campaign based on what we now know was poor intelligence with no clear exit strategy. Lest anyone think I am speaking disparagingly of former President George W. Bush, I am not. There was a great deal of failure on many fronts with respect to the war in Iraq, and I suppose history will reveal where things went, “South.” I do believe that history will paint a far better picture of President Bush than many currently see. I will leave that right there.
In recent times we saw the up-rising in Egypt with the overthrow of the evil reign of Hosni Mubarak. Then it was the assassination of Momar Qaddafi. The nations cheered as a collective sigh of relief was breathed across the Middle East. Then all Americans felt vindicated as the personification of malevolence, the driving force behind the infamous “9/11” terrorist attacks, Osama Bin Laden was killed in a raid by special forces. Will Syrian President Assad be next? As of this writing the Free Syria and Islamic forces continue to battle it out for supremacy. An uprising protesting his Presidency is now in its sixteenth month as of this writing.
All of this rather than bringing peace and stability to the region has only made the situation all the more volatile. Why is this the case? Simply because the proverbial “power vacuums” created by the deposing of these assorted despots has not been filled with any form of democratic government, for again, it could not due to the fact that these are all predominantly Islamic nations. Who is filling the void? What forces do we see rising up? There is a group that you may have heard in the news recently, the so-called, “Muslim Brotherhood” that is providing “leadership” in the absence of these deposed rulers. I will not waste my time or yours elaborating on the history of this radical (and that is putting it lightly) group. Suffice it to say that they are the common denominator it would seem in the growing tensions all across the Mid-East region. They are not the only force, but a large and very vocal one. They have two qualities that should be of interest to all who love God and freedom: 1) They hate the United States, and 2) They hate Israel. They would love to see both eliminated and are working with other groups to bring that about.
All of this is leading up to and setting the stage for an end-time war scenario the Hebrew prophets foretold millennia ago. Yes, current world conditions on this and many other fronts are all pointing to the fact that you and I are living in the narrow space of time between the sixth and seventh millenniums known as, “the time of the end.” Another way to say it would be to say we are very quickly approaching the end of the Church Age, or the Dispensation of Grace; and approaching the prophetic period of time often referred to as, “Daniel’s 70th Week.”
Someplace in conjunction with all of that there will be a war scenario, a potentially multilevel campaign that will result in the leveling of Damascus with Israel facing an attack by a coalition of Islamic Nations working in association with Russia and the Russian leader. Someone asks, “The Prophets foretold all of that?” They certainly did. I want to examine these prophecies in this section of our series on, “Israel’s Prophetic Future.” I am titling this section, “Isaiah, Asaph, and the Ezekiel War Scenario.”
- ISAIAH: Isaiah 17:1
The Prophet opens the chapter, The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap.There is some debate among scholars as to the meaning and application of this verse, and really the entire chapter. Some would say that the Prophet is only making reference to the destruction of Damascus by the Assyrians in 732 B.C., the clearly understood subject of the chapter. Others would insist that it has strictly a distant fulfillment. The truth is it has both a local and distant fulfillment, as is the case with many of these prophecies.
In the time of Isaiah Damascus was the leading city of Syria, and remains so today. It is touted in many circles as the oldest city in the world, and it does have a good claim to it. History records that Damascus has been destroyed more often than any other city, yet it has always risen again from the ashes. There is some debate among archaeologists as to whether or not it has always been re-built on the exact same location each time, but the fact remains it does stand today. That being the case, it is obvious that Isaiah’s prophecy has not been completely fulfilled, although Damascus has been destroyed before.
The key to understanding this verse is the Prophet’s assertion that it istaken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap.While it is true that Damascus has been destroyed many times before, it has never been, taken away from being a city. In the future, and possibly near future, it will be. So how does this fit into Israel’s prophetic future?
As of this writing there has been a 16-month uprising in Syria opposing Syrian President Bassar Al-Assad. Also as of this writing, Rueter’s News is reporting that the fighting has reached the outskirts of the Capital. Al-Assad has declared that Syria is officially at war. He has reportedly instructed his new government to, “Spare no effort to achieve victory.” With his back clearly against the proverbial wall and the pressure on, there are those who have predicted that he will attack Israel. If he does this it is nearly certain that Israel will respond militarily to defend themselves, and probably do so with their considerable nuclear arsenal. Their most likely target would be Damascus, thus reducing it to a “ruinous heap” never to be a city again! Yes, we live in the time the Prophets spoke about.
This could then lead to,
- ASAPH: Psalm 83
This is a remarkable section of scripture. Like many prophetic texts there are differences of interpretation and application. Many try to fit it all into the time of Jehoshaphat. Others project it all into the future. Again, this certainly has a local application to the time of the King, but it becomes difficult if not impossible to fit all of this exceptional prophecy into an historical context. Lets take a look at the first eight verses of this Psalm of Asaph,
Keep not thou silence, O God: hold not thy peace, and be not still, O God. For, lo, thine enemies make a tumult: and they that hate thee have lifted up the head. They have taken crafty counsel against thy people, and consulted against thy hidden ones. They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance. For they have consulted together with one consent: they are confederate against thee: The tabernacles of Edom, and the Ishmaelites; of Moab, and the Hagarenes; Gebal, and Ammon, and Amalek; the Philistines with the inhabitants of Tyre; Assur also is joined with them: they have holpen the children of Lot. Selah. [Psalm 83:1 – 8]
There are commentators who see this confederation of Nations as being the ten nation confederacy, the infamous “Ten Horns”, joining with Antichrist to come against Israel in the Great Tribulation. [See Dan. 7:7, Rev. 17:12] However, I submit to you that we should ask ourselves, 1) Are these ten nations in existence today?, and 2) Are they enemies of Israel? Before we address ourselves to the answers to those questions, a bit of background on the writing of this Psalm might be in order.
Psalm 83 was probably written sometime after the end of King Solomon’s reign, around 900 B.C. Interestingly though, the Bible contains no account of a concentrated effort by all of Israel’s enemies to destroy them, either during that time or since. In all fairness I think I should mention that a partial fulfillment of this prophecy may be in view in 2 Chronicles 20 when Moab, Ammon, and parts of Edom invaded Judah during King Jehosophat’s reign (872 – 848 B.C.). Interestingly, Jahziel, a Levite who prophesied Judah’s victory in that battle was a descendant of Asaph, who wrote Psalm 83. In the attack against His people in 2 Chronicles 20, the Lord employs one of His favorite tactics and turns Judah’s enemies against themselves and they defeat each other. Ezekiel 38:21 tells of a future use of the same tactic.
But the battle of 2 Chronicles 20 doesn’t fully meet the requirements of Psalm 83, having many fewer antagonists, so on that basis we’ll assume its fulfillment is still in the future, perhaps the very near future. If so, it very well could be the bridge between the current state of affairs in Israel and the conditions necessary for the battle of Ezekiel 38, 39 to happen.
The language of Psalm 83 is out of today’s headlines and the countries lined up against Israel in this Psalm inhabited the lands of Israel’s current neighbors. Edom and the Ishmaelites were in land occupied by southern Jordan today while the territories of Moab and Ammon make up the rest of that country. Ahman, the modern spelling of Ammon, is the capital of Jordan. (While the government of Jordan has a peace treaty with Israel, we should remember that some 70% of Jordan’s population is “Palestinian” and in fact the country was originally formed to be the Palestinian home land.) .
The Hagrites were part of Aram, whose capitol was Damascus in modern Syria. According to 1 Chron. 5:10 they occupied the area east of Gilead in today’s northern Jordan. Gebal (also called Byblos) and Tyre can still be found in present day Lebanon. The Amalekites lived in Israel’s southern desert and Philistia settled in Gaza on Israel’s southern border. Assyria would conquer Aram shortly after Psalm 83 was written and the descendants of Lot is another reference to Jordan. Remember, Moab and Ammon were the sons of an incestuous union between Lot and his two daughters.
So here we have all of Israel’s next door neighbors, all of them sworn to Israel’s destruction, and all of them being whipped into a frenzy by Syria and Iran.
Asaph, the Psalm’s writer, can’t resist telling the Lord exactly how he’d like Israel’s enemies to be dealt with. In that sense he’s just like you and me. [See Psalm 83:9 – 18]
Midian was defeated by a vastly outnumbered force under the command of Gideon. It was another case of the Lord turning Israel’s enemies against each other and causing them to defeat themselves. (Judges 7)
Jabin was a king of the Canaanites and Sisera was the commander of his army. The Lord lured the Canaanite army into a trap and the Israelites destroyed them.(Judges 4) The commander of Israel’s army was named Barak, just like Israel’s current Defense Minister. Probably a coincidence.
Oreb, Zeeb Zebah, and Zalmunna were all leaders of the Midianite army defeated by Gideon.
Asaph’s prayer was that Israel’s current enemies will be just as soundly defeated as were the Midianites and the Canaanites, their armies scattered and their leaders executed.
Thousands of missiles and rockets located in Lebanon, Syria, and Gaza are positioned to strike strategic targets everywhere in Israel. A short while ago, Syria moved 800 long range missiles into firing positions, placed them on combat readiness, and given them updated target coordinates. This was done in response to Israel’s nationwide civil defense drills. To avoid duplication in targeting, Iran has created and will direct a unified command center in Damascus to coordinate the massive simultaneous deployment of these weapons upon the outbreak of hostilities. Their thought is that the Israelis will not be able to protect themselves against such an all out attack and will be effectively disabled.
But Israel might pick this opportunity to launch a preemptive attack against the command center, wiping out Damascus in fulfillment of Isaiah 17 [This is an alternate scenario to the one we listed earlier]. Losing their command and control abilities could cause the enemy attack to degenerate into a confused and chaotic effort that Israel will soundly defeat just like Gideon defeated the Midianites.
Should this be the case, Israel will become larger, not smaller, with the contention over the ownership of Gaza, the West bank and the Golan put to an end. Israel will become stronger, not weaker, its military reputation restored and even enhanced. The divided land will be divided no more, and Jerusalem will remain a unified city. The controversial security fence will likely come down, since the borders on all three sides will be safe and the threat of terrorist attacks eliminated. 60 years of war will have finally ended. It will be the perfect opportunity for Israel to be lured into a false sense of security and become a peaceful and unsuspecting people living in a land of unwalled villages as Ezekiel 38 requires. And it could all happen this summer.
Meanwhile, the Russians and Iranians, who will have fought this battle primarily by proxy, will study their defeat and learn from their mistakes, lying in wait for the next opportunity to strike. It won’t be long in coming. You can almost hear the footsteps of the Messiah.
Next time we will pick up with an examination of that which we are referring to as, “The Ezekiel War Scenario.” Join us if you can.