I have spent more time on the “Suddenly” series of articles than originally intended, but due to many questions in the previous weeks, I feel more in depth information is warranted. Our world is changing much more quickly than most are aware of. I heard someone say the other day that it would be much easier to keep one’s head in the sand, but this is not the time to do so. I understand the feeling.
The Word of God has been put together with great care by the One who knows all! He has given us the charge to study and share the full counsel of God found in His Word. None of us understands it all, but the Holy Spirit is faithful to open our minds to what has been written in these holy writings, if we will dedicate ourselves to searching them out. I challenge you, the reader, to do this in the remaining moments of time in this age.
I would like to share some information about wars which are still to come between now and when Messiah Jesus returns to set up His millennial throne on planet earth. Why is it important to know about these things? For several reasons, but not the least of them being that they are foretold in Bible prophecy and God intended for us to know ahead of time. These prophecies are not nearly as mystifying today as they were even a decade ago. God is opening His Word to many of His watchmen around the world and I have learned a great deal from many students of the Word and have spent many years confirming and searching these things out for myself as well.
Anyone who pays attention to world news today is well aware of the powder keg in the Middle East. The history of wars in the Middle East goes back thousands of years but what is about to unfold has been foretold in great detail by the Old Testament prophets. No matter how much we would rather these things not affect our lifestyle in the West, we will not see that wish fulfilled. Increasingly, we are living in a global society and what happens in one part of the world affects the rest of the globe—especially when it involves the Middle East. The Epicenter of the world is Israel. The target of the world is Jerusalem, and the bulls-eye is the Temple Mount. It is important to understand that God’s foreign policy operates from Jerusalem outward.
There has been an abundance of material written describing the roots of the problem between the Arab nations and Israel. I hardly need to rehash this whole issue here. Here however is a very short synopsis.
The conflict goes back to several family feuds but I will mention two of them here. One of the feuds is between the two sons of the Patriarch Abraham. His older son by his wife Sarah’s Egyptian servant girl Hagar was Ishmael. The younger son was a miracle birth to his mother Sarah when she was 90 years old. The second feud had to do with Abraham’s twin grandsons born to Isaac’s wife Rebecca. The older of the twins was Esau and the younger, Jacob.
The conflict comes with the sovereign choice of blessing that God made between these four boys. God chose the younger one in both cases. Jealousy has been present in the human race since the fall in the Garden of Eden when Cain, through his jealousy, murdered his brother Abel. This same jealousy is present in the descendants of Ishmael and Esau today. This jealousy took on a whole new level in the 7th century AD when Muhammad claimed he received special revelations from the angel Gabriel. According to the teachings of Muhammad, it was not Isaac that Abraham was told to sacrifice before God but Ishmael. Islam corrupted the story to claim that Isaac was not yet born and that Ishmael was Abraham’s “only son”. The Torah however states clearly that Isaac was the only “real” son of Abraham because Ishmael was born of Hagar, the Egyptian slave girl and Isaac was born of Abraham’s true wife, Sarah–which was what God had promised from the very beginning.
Through millennia of this family feud, we come to the “land of promise” which God gave Abraham. Was it given to Abraham’s descendants through Ishmael (the son of the servant) or Isaac (the son of the wife)? Did the continued blessing pass to Jacob (born of the favorite wife) or to Esau (who sold his birthright for a bowl of stew)? This in short is the basis of the conflict, and until Jesus the Prince of Peace returns, the world will continue to see this conflict. This conflict between the Muslim Arab nations (descendents of Ishmael and Esau) and Israel (descendents of Jacob) is demonically inspired. The fallen Lucifer continues to attempt to destroy God’s chosen vehicle nation for the Messiah.
A comment needs to be made here before I progress any farther in this study. God loves the people of every nationality, every race, and both sexes. His sovereign choices of who will play what part in the unfolding history of the world and the plan for the eternal defeat of evil are His to make. He is God. These choices do not indicate a greater love for one race or nationality above another. It must be understood that Jesus the Messiah died for every man, woman, and child on this earth. People of all nationalities and ethnicity are accepted into the family of God as they accept the free gift of forgiveness and salvation through Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, who was sacrificed for the sins of the world. Many members of all nations and ethnicities are becoming born-again believers in the Messiah Jesus today, including millions of former Muslim people. That settled, let’s go back to our subject.
In the past decades, the Middle East conflict has been centered on the right of ownership of land currently inhabited by Israelis and Palestinians. All Jewish people come from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The Palestinians however have no common historical lineage which specifically links them to any specific ethnicity. The Palestinian’s ethnicity is traced to the Edomites, Egyptians, Ammonites, Moabites, Yeminites, Saudi Arabians, Moroccans, Christians from Greece, Muslim Sherkas from Russia, Muslims from Bosnia, and many other nations. There are three main Palestinian groupings, which are all predominately Arab. There are the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip; the Palestinians of the West Bank; and the Palestinian Refugees. Most of these are located within the borders of Israel proper but are also scattered in several neighboring Arab nations, quite often along the border areas. One of the highest concentrations of Palestinian people is found in Jordan with about 60 – 70% of the Jordanian population identifying themselves as Palestinians.
Another important fact to make clear is how the land that is now in question in the Middle East became to be named “Palestine”. The name was changed from Israel to Palestine in 135 AD after Rome put down the Bar Kokhba revolt. Rome wanted nothing connecting the land or the people to Israel, nor their religion, and so changed the name of Israel to Palestine.
Today the world is becoming embroiled in the conflict between “Zionism” and a relatively new term “Palestinianism”. Everyone is calling for “peace and security”. Can there be a two-state solution, dividing the land between the Palestinians and the Israelis? And if someone manages to broker such a deal, can it possibly last? We will find answers to most of our questions in the Holy Scriptures. The Bible has not missed on a single one of its prophecies yet, so we should find out what this Book has to say about the subject and pay close attention to it. We learn here that the struggle over dividing the Land and claims of ownership will ultimately lead to war.
We are given explicit details of a major regional war that is about to be fought in the Middle East. The Bible gives us a great deal of detail on the background behind this war and also its eventual outcome. I must here give credit to Bill Salus for his 2008 book, “Isralestine.” This work is chock full of extremely well documented and researched information. I have now read it three times and use it as a valued resource. I highly recommend it to the studious mind.
There are several Old Testament Scriptures that we must turn to find some of the answers we need today. One of these passages is Psalms 83. This is a complaint lodged with God by the seer Asaph. He is quite explicit in his complaints. Let’s take a look at this passage in the NKJV:
Do not keep silent, O God! Do not hold Your peace, and do not be still, O God! For behold, Your enemies make a tumult; and those who hate You have lifted up their head. They have taken crafty counsel against Your people, and consulted together against Your sheltered ones. They have said, “Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation. That the name of israel may be remembered no more.” For they have consulted together with one consent; They form a confederacy against You; the tents of Edom and the ishmaelites; Moab and the Hagrites; Gebal, Ammon, and Amalek; Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre; Assyria also has joined with them; They have helped the children of Lot.
One can read through this Psalm and not pay much attention to the details. One must stop and take a closer look at what the prophet was saying so as to catch what is being said. Was this just a “blue” day for this seer? We know that the prophets of the Old Testament had much reason to sound a bit depressed in their writings. But this is a very specific list of “nations” that would be a major threat for the Jewish people in the time of the end of the age. We should therefore be able to pinpoint exactly who these nations are and what the status of this threat is today.
The first enemy listed here is labeled “The Tents of Edom”. Old maps of the Middle East show a section of real estate called Edom. We also find the Edomites listed in history. When the Greeks took over, they were called the “Idumaeans”. The Edomites are the descendants of Jacob’s twin brother, Esau. The history of the conflicts between the descendants of Esau and Jacob go all the way back to the birth of these twin brothers as mentioned above.
Let’s identify all the of the enemies listed by Asaph.
- Tents of Edom: Southern Jordan and Palestinian Refugees, descendants of Esau
- Ishmaelites: Arabia (Ishmael was one of the fathers of the Arabs)
- Moab: Central Jordan and Palestinian refugees
- Hagrites: Egypt
- Geba: Northern Lebanon
- Ammon: Northern Jordan and Palestinian refugees
- Amalek: The Negev and Sinai Peninsula areas
- Philistia: The Gaza Strip and Hamas
- Assyria: Syria and Northern Iraq
- Tyre: Southern Lebanon and Hezbollah
I find it quite interesting that Asaph, somewhere around 3,000 years ago, described the very mantra of the Arab nations around the nation of Israel today. He said, “They have said, ‘Come, let us cut them off from being a nation, that the nation of Israel may be remembered no more.”’ Isn’t that exactly what is being said today? Isn’t this very confederacy coming together today? I believe it is quickly coming together and is farther along than most of us realize.
Let’s now look at another Scripture that ties in with Psalms 83. The prophet Obadiah had a mysterious vision, recorded in the very short one chapter book named after the prophet. It reads as follows. (I include as much of the text as possible because many of my readers have very limited access to God’s printed Word.)
The vision of Obadiah. Thus says the LORD GOD concerning Edom (We have heard a report from the LORD, and a messenger has been sent among the nations, saying, “Arise, and let us rise up against her for battle”): “Behold, I will make you small among the nations; You shall be greatly despised. The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who dwell in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; you who say in your heart, ‘Who will bring me down to the ground?’ Though you ascend as high as the eagle, and though you set your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down,” says the LORD.
“If thieves had come to you, if robbers by night—Oh, how you will be cut off!—Would they not have stolen till they had enough? If grape-gathers had come to you, would they not have left some gleanings?
“Oh, how Esau shall be searched out! How his hidden treasures shall be sought after! All the men in your confederacy shall force you to the border; the men at peace with you shall deceive you and prevail against you. Those who eat your bread shall lay a trap for you. No one is aware of it.
“Will I not in that day,” says the LORD, “Even destroy the wise men from Edom, and understanding from the mountains of Esau? Then your mighty men, O Teman, shall be dismayed, to the end that everyone from the mountains of Esau may be cut off by slaughter.
“For violence against your brother Jacob, shame shall cover you, and you shall be cut off forever. In the day that you stood on the other side–In the day that strangers carried captive his forces, when foreigners entered his gates and cast lots for Jerusalem–Even you were as one of them.
“But you should not have gazed on the day of your brother in the day of his captivity, nor should you have rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction; nor should you have spoken out proudly in the day of distress, you should not have entered the gate of my people in the day of their calamity. Indeed, you should not have gazed on their affliction in the day of their calamity, nor laid hands on their substance in the day of their calamity. You should not have stood at the crossroads to cut off those among them who escaped; nor should you have delivered up those among them who remained in the day of distress.
“For the day of the LORD upon all the nations is near; as you have done; it shall be done to you; your reprisal shall return upon your own head. for as you drank on My holy mountain, so shall all the nations drink continually; Yes, they shall drink, and swallow, and they shall be as though they had never been.
“But on Mount Zion there shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions. The house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame; but the house of Esau shall be stubble; they shall kindle them and devour them, and no survivor shall remain of the house of Esau.” for the LORD has spoken.
The South shall possess the mountains of Esau, and the Lowland shall possess Philistia. They shall possess the fields of Ephraim and the fields of Samaria. Benjamin shall possess Gilead. And the captives of this host of the children of Israel shall possess the land of the Canaanites as far as Zarephath. The captives of jerusalem who are in Sepharad shall possess the cities of the South. Then saviors shall come to Mount Zion to judge the mountains of Esau, and the kingdom shall be the LORD’S.
Without going into depth to explain this vision, I would like to touch on a few important highlights. The prophet is saying that he is getting a report from the LORD of a messenger being sent to different nations to rouse them to battle. Who does the messenger represent? I believe it is the house of Esau and his descendants. There is more than one Scripture reference that seems to indicate that the “Tents of Edom” are at the forefront of bringing this great threat upon the Children of Israel in the latter days.
God then goes on and says that He will make the Edomites (Tents of Edom or Palestinians) small among the nations. This certainly has already happened, no matter how much attention has been drawn to their “plight”. I won’t go into the detailed description of what God is saying to the Edomites here but it all leads to God telling them in no uncertain terms that they are done for. The descendants of Esau would be found out and utterly cut off.
I find it interesting that the confederates of the Palestinians keep them at their borders as it says in verse 7. We know that hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have been living in tent cities since 1948. In fact, this passage of Scripture enlightens us by saying that the Edomites would be taken advantage of and used through deception. The deception would involve bringing the conflict to the forefront.
Just a quick look into history tells us that in 1948 the Arab nations around Israel instructed the Palestinians to vacate the land until those neighboring nations were able to drive the Israelites out of the land. As it turned out, GOD had a different plan. Not only were the combined Arab forces not able to destroy the fledgling nation of Israel on the first day of its official existence, but Arab armies were defeated every single time since then and have yet to find a way of destroying Israel. God keeps His promises! But, this left the Palestinians out of “Palestine”, for the most part. The ones that are in Israel proper today are convinced that the land should be theirs and not belong to the Jews. No matter what peace agreement is arrived at, the Palestinians will not settle for less than all of the land, not just the pre-1967 war land boundaries that everyone is bringing to the negotiating table.
One contributing problem to the plight of the Palestinians is the fact that most of the Arab nations around Israel have not allowed the Palestinians to be integrated into their nations. The Palestinian Liberation Organization, particularly under the leadership of Yassar Arafat, was run out of Jordan militarily, with the loss of approximately 100,000 lives, when the PLO attempted to take over the Jordanian government. There is much more to the story than is being told.
Many stones are thrown at Zionism which incidentally is named after Mt. Zion in the city of Jerusalem. It became a movement led by Theodor Herzl at the turn of the 20th century and its goal was the formation of an independent Jewish State. Palestinianism’s goal was to keep that from ever coming about and a total destruction of the State of Israel if it did. Zionism and Palestinianism cannot survive in the same Middle East. So, here lies the problem that the United Nations is dealing with today. The Word of God, however, foresaw the problem thousands of years ago and tells the rest of the story in several accounts given by the Old Testament prophets.
Now back to Obadiah. God tells him that Edom will not survive their attack on Israel. The Tents of Edom will be devastated. Obadiah’s vision includes some interesting comments in verses 10-15. We find that God gives Esau’s descendants a history lesson. I might add here that even though history never has all the details, God does! This is why He has reserved vengeance for Himself! He knows ALL the facts and His memory is flawless.
During the time of God’s dealings with the nation of Israel when they were taken captive to Babylon, the Edomites played a dangerous hand. History teaches us that the besieging and fall of Israel to Babylon and its subsequent exile was celebrated by the Edomites. Not only did they look on the unfolding events with a haughtiness and pride, but they added insult and injury to their relatives by aiding the Babylonians. They even ambushed and caught fleeing Israelis as they tried to escape the Babylonians and turned them over. Afterward, they moved into the vacated lands of the Israelites and confiscated whatever they found. Edomites even took advantage of Jerusalem being overrun and gained all they could at the expense of their cousins. God took note and did not forget their treachery.
God’s intent in exiling the Jews to Babylon was to punish His people, the Israelites, for their wickedness, but He made it clear that no one else had the right to add to their grief, punishment, or plight. It was not their place. God made it clear that his “law of reciprocity” was going to be engaged for those that took advantage of the weak condition they found the Israelites in. We remember what it was that God told Abram in Genesis 12:1-3:
Now the LORD had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
We find in Obadiah a reminder that God would fulfill that very promise. One of the strongest statements to that effect is found in verses 17-18:
“But on Mount Zion there shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions. The house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame; but the house of Esau shall be stubble; they shall kindle them and devour them, and no survivor shall remain of the house of Esau,” for the LORD has spoken.
We find a confirmation of the destruction that will come about when this battle ensues. It is found in Ezekiel 25:12-14:
Thus says the LORD GOD: “Because of what Edom did against the house of Judah by taking vengeance, and has greatly offended by avenging itself on them,” therefore thus says the LORD GOD: “I will also stretch out My hand against Edom, cut off man and beast from it, and make it desolate from Teman; Dedan shall fall by the sword. I will lay My vengeance on Edom by the hand of My people Israel, that they may do in Edom according to My anger and according to My fury; and they shall know My vengeance,” says the LORD GOD.
There are some things said here we must not miss. Edom felt it was taking vengeance against Israel for things that had happened in past history. Here again, we must remember that God was the One that said all vengeance is His to deal out. There is plenty of wrong to pass around, and Israel was not without their blunders and sins. But it is strongly stated in the Word of God that discipline and punishment are His to take care of–and in His time. He is the only One that sees all and knows how to judge all. Scripture adds that the act of taking vengeance ourselves greatly offends God.
God then says that He will stretch out His hand against Edom, cutting off man and beast, making it desolate from Teman (Teman was one of the dukes of Edom– a grandson of Esau). This makes it quite clear that the results of this conflict are more than just decisive; they are devastating, leaving no man or beast to survive.
Verse 16 goes on to say that “Dedan” shall fall by the sword. Who is Dedan? A little research tells us it is modern Saudi Arabia. So, because Saudi Arabia chooses to join this confederacy, it is soundly defeated in war as well. In fact, according to other prophecies, the reach of Israeli sovereignty after this war may be as far as Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia. If their sovereignty does not extend this far through this war, it likely will later due to God’s promises to Abraham and the children of Israel being promised everything they have tread with their feet.
Lastly, before moving on to the next point, we must see how God chooses to effect victory against this coalition of the “Tents of Edom”. Verse 14 tells us that God will lay His vengeance on Edom by the hand of His people, Israel. He will in fact, instruct Israel to exact His vengeance on Edom according to His anger and according to His fury.
There were many times in history when God intervened in Israel’s impossible situations and supernaturally wiped their enemies out, as He did with the Midianites. In fact, in Psalms 83:9, Asaph requests that God do that very thing that He had done to the Midianites, but God apparently chooses to use the Israeli military instead, which Ezekiel 37 describes as “a very great army”. There is a stark contrast between what God does here using Israel’s army against her enemies, and what He does with the enemies that Israel will face in the war of Gog and Magog described in Ezekiel 38 and 39. In that future conflict, which I believe is World War 3, God destroys the enemies of Israel Himself, as He did with Midian in the Old Testament in Gideon’s day.
To be continued in Part 11 as we see how more Old Testament prophets confirm what is about to happen in the Middle East.