Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Next in the Mideast

A growing body of prophecy watchers now believe that the next war in the Mideast is likely to be described by Psalm 83. Those expecting Ezekiel 38 to describe the next Mideast war are dwindling because of several issues with a literal interpretation…

While the nations described in Ezekiel 38 are far from being friendly toward Israel, they are not directly adjacent to them. The nations immediately adjacent to Israel are not mentioned in Ezekiel 38 which begs us to ask why. Many prophecy watchers are now saying that Psalm 83 offers the explanation.

Another problem with Ezekiel 38 describing the next war in the Mideast is that Ezekiel 38:11 refers to Israel as a land of “unwalled villages.” I used to rationalize that this does not apply to the security walls in Israel because these are no defense against a modern mechanized force. But the prophecies about the Lord’s first coming were literally fulfilled so we should expect details related to His return to be literally fulfilled as well. So something must happen to enable Israel to be confident enough about peace that they can remove their security walls.

I have also come to the conclusion that the term “Gog” in Ezekiel 38 is a reference to the Antichrist. The only other place the term “Gog” is used in the Bible is in Revelation where it describes a world leader who opposes Christ at the end of the Millennial Kingdom. So this means that Ezekiel 38 must occur during the Tribulation and thus may not describe the next war in the Mideast.

One more observation about Ezekiel 38 from the “literal interpretation” category… Ezekiel 38:4 describes the army attacking Israel as riding horses. Now this could be symbolism for a mounted, mechanized force or the way Ezekiel used to describe this since there were no tracked vehicles in his day. Or it could be that some prior war will eliminate the mechanized weapons and literal horses will need to be used. It is interesting to note that the EMP from nuclear weapon air bursts fries electronics thus rendering modern vehicles inoperative. The Tribulation will be characterized by one war after another so it would not surprise me that combatants are reduced to using primitive weapons.

Considering all this leads one to conclude that there must be a war that precedes Ezekiel 38. Psalm 83 does appear to better describe the geopolitical situation that most immediately threatens Israel today. The motivation of Israel’s enemy in Ezekiel 38 is “to take great plunder” (Ezekiel 38:18, NKJ). On the other hand, Psalm 83:4 says, “Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation, that the name of Israel may be remembered no more.” This is indeed the motivation of the series of Palestinian Intifadas that have made Mideast peace impossible.

The nations mentioned in Psalm 83:6-8 describe Israel’s immediate neighbors that will surely be drawn into any conflict involving the Palestinians. Wikipedia leads me to make the following associations for the Psalm 83 nations that oppose Israel:

Edom refers to the descendants of Esau and Jordan is the modern nation that best fit where they settled. The Ishmaelites were part of the Midianites that settled in Iraq, Jordan, and Arabia. Moab was the son of Lot and his daughter and it also refers to Jordan. Hagrites means the followers or descendants of Hagar and has come to mean any Muslim. Gebal refers to Lebanon; Ammon is Jordan; Amalek is associated with Mecca (Saudi Arabia or Al-Qaeda) and symbolic of the archetypal enemy of the Jews. Philistia refers to the Philistines who at various times were in Gaza, Syria and Egypt. Tyre is Lebanon and Assyria refers to portions of Syria and modern-day Iraq.

There have been other Mideast wars involving these nations before but this next war will be different. Israel’s neighbors now have more destructive capacity and they have demonstrated a willingness to pay a high price to kill Jews. Hezbollah based in Lebanon is now armed with more improved missiles than most governments in the world. The next war that Israel faces will be an existential one. The enemies of Israel will not wait for Iran to get a nuclear weapon, they are in a hurry to get rid of them to make way for their messiah, al Mahdi. “Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time” (Revelation 12:12).

We know that God will allow Israel to deal a deadly blow to those who try to “wipe them off the map.” Zechariah 12:6 says, “In that day I will make the governors of Judah like a firepan in the woodpile, and like a fiery torch in the sheaves; they shall devour all the surrounding peoples on the right hand and on the left.” Israel will probably have to use their nuclear weapons to stop the missiles from raining down on them. This will certainly bring an end to the Palestinian problem and make Israel’s neighbors a non-issue in the later Ezekiel 38 war. We know that Damascus, the oldest, continuously inhabited city in the world will become “a ruinous heap” (Isaiah 17:1).

The Psalm 83 war will also set the stage for the Antichrist to come on the scene. Such a major tragedy demands a charismatic world leader to emerge that can promise peace to Israel. This peace will enable Israel to build their temple in Jerusalem that must be in place by the mid-point of the Tribulation per Daniel 9:27.

The Psalm 83 war will throw the world into a panic. I can’t think of a better time for the Rapture to occur when there is such a major distraction. Indeed, 2 Thessalonians 2:11 says, “God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie” that explains away the Rapture of the Church.

So as we see the Psalm 83 war about to take place, “look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” (Luke 21:28).

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