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Arab-Israeli war

First of all, there are numerous prophecies that speak of an Arab-Israeli conflict in the last days. These seven are remarkably similar: Psa 83; Eze 35; 36; Joel 3; Oba; Zec 14; Zep 2; 3; Amo 1; 2.

  1. Each pictures an Arab attack upon Israel. While it is true that Psa 83 does not actually say that this attack will succeed, all of the other six do say so (consider Eze 35:5,15; 36:2-5; Joe 3:2,3,5-7; Oba 1:10-14; Zec 14:1,2; Zep 1:2,3; and Amo 1:3,6,9,11,13). And thus they supplement Psa 83's lack on this one point.
  2. There is an amazing conformity as to the nations named in each of the seven prophecies: Psa 83 lists the most nations (ten in all: Edom; Moab, Gebal, Ammon, Amalek, Hagarenes, Ishmaelites, Philistines, Tyre, and Assur -- the number may be significant: cp Gen 15:18-21 and perhaps Dan 7:7 and Rev 12:3; 13:1; etc). But four of those ten (Edom, Moab, Ammon, and the Philistines) figure in almost every other of the seven passages. These names closely correspond to Jordan and the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) -- who have, according to their views, been dispossessed of their territory by an expansionist Israel.
  3. In two of the prophecies (Joel 3 and Zec 14), the phrase "all nations" occurs. This has led many to suppose (mistakenly, we believe) that these passages parallel Ezekiel 38 / 39, and describe a mammoth Russian-led coalition from Europe and Asia and indeed (through perhaps the United Nations) from virtually all nations on the face of the earth. This misapprehension arises, we think, from two causes: (a) failure to appreciate the reasonable limitations, in the Bible, of such all-inclusive language; and (b) failure to consider the context: whereas Joel 3:2 and Zec 14:2 both use "all nations", Joel 3:11 and Zec 14:14 modify that phrase to mean 'all nations round about'. Furthermore, each of Joel 3 and Zec 14 actually name only Arab nations in the Middle Eastern area.
  4. Considering some of the nations involved (see #2 above), it is evident that the Arab nations will fight Israel in order to reclaim their land, which they believe to have been stolen from them. But, even more precisely, Psa 83 and Eze 36 state their objective to be the reclamation of the ancient high, or holy, places (Eze 36:2) -- or the "houses of God" (Psa 83:12). Most likely, this means the ancient Temple mount, where now stands the Moslem Dome of the Rock. It is interesting that, though they are but a small minority in Israel, there are fanatically religious Jews bent on the destruction of the Moslem "abomination" and the subsequent erection of a new Jewish temple on its former site. Will some such act be the spark to set off the final Arab-Israeli conflagration?
  5. Each of these seven passages predicts the manifestation of Divine glory to defeat Israel's conquerors and to reveal the true God of Israel to all men. It may be argued that such prophecies have already been fulfilled in Old Testament times or perhaps in 1948 or 1967. Many Bible prophecies have more than one fulfillment. But surely the language in these passages is intended also to describe, in the final and most perfect fulfillment, the arrival in glory of the Lord Jesus Christ and the establishment of his Father's glorious millennial (ie 1,000-year) kingdom: "That men may know that thou, whose name alone is Jehovah, art the most high over all the earth" (Psa 83:18). "The Lord also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake... So shall ye know that I am the Lord your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain" (Joel 3:16,17). "But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance... and the kingdom shall be the Lord's" (Oba 1:17,21).
  6. Whereas most of the nations enumerated are the immediate neighbors of Israel, Psa 83:8 seems to present Assur (or Assyria: cp Zep 2:13) in a very important role: "Assur also is joined to them; they have helped the children of Lot [ie Moab and Ammon]." The verse suggests that what had been threatened before (but never achieved) is finally made possible through the invaluable assistance of Assyria. Thus, what Edom and Moab and Ammon have been unable to accomplish -- when helped merely by Syrians and Arabians and Palestinians -- they at last accomplish with the intervention and help of the greater power from the northeast. And this is in keeping with the facts of history also. The early history of the nation of Israel contains several incidents in which David and Jehoshaphat, among other kings, defeated their immediate Arab neighbors and even expanded their territory (2Sa 5; 8; 10; 12; 1Ch 11; 18; 19; 20; 2Ch 20). But, later, when (first) Assyria and (afterward) Babylonia came as northern power leaders of these same Arab nations, then at first two-thirds and finally all of Israel and Judah (including Jerusalem) fell (2Ki 17:1-6; 2Ch 36:11-21; Zec 13:7-9). We suggest that we are in the midst of another fulfillment of this very sequence. It is true that in 1948 and 1956 and 1967 and 1973 Israel has defeated her closest Arab neighbors and has extended her dominion into their lands. And this Israeli supremacy has become so much a part of Christian "legend" and "lore" that many now find it unthinkable that the "clever" Israelis could ever lose to the "bumbling" Arabs. But history -- Divine history -- tells us that, what "Moab" and "Ammon" and "Edom" (Jordan?) and Syria could not do on their own, "Assyria" and "Babylon" (Iraq?) could help them to accomplish!
  7. This defeat of Israel by Moslem/Arab nations is plainly marked out (in 5 of the 7 selected passages) as the very last defeat of Israel before an extraordinary fulfillment of Israel's hope: "Neither will I cause men to hear in thee [ie the mountains of Israel] the shame of the heathen any more, neither shalt thou bear the reproach of the people any more" (Eze 36:15). "Then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no stranger pass through her any more" (Joel 3:17). "There shall be no more utter destruction" (Zec 14:11).
Significantly, we have not listed the Gogian invasion of Eze 38/39. Why? In ct with these seven prophecies, Eze 38/39 has an almost totally different cast of characters. These are by and large an outer ring of Moslem nations encircling the inner ring listed in Psa 83, etc. Thus Ezekiel's vision should probably be relegated to the time immediately after Christ has defeated the first Arab wave and established his kingdom. (Note the relevance of "dwelling safely" in Eze 38:8,11,14 -- cp with Eze 28:25,26; 34:25,28; Zec 14:11; Jer 23:5,6.)

There are numerous other passages that describe a final Arab-Israeli war resulting in defeat for Israel -- a defeat which will be the very last suffered by Israel before her deliverance by Christ at his return. The constraint of space allows no more than the listing of a few such passages, with brief comments:

Psa 60 (cp with Psa 108:6-13): Moab, Ammon, and Philistia first scatter Israel, and then are trodden down by Divine power.

Isa 13 -- 23: Ten "burdens" upon, among others, Babylon (Iraq?), Philistia, Moab, Damascus (Syria), Egypt (where many Jews have been carried captive -- cp Isa 19:20-25 with Zec 14:2), Dumah (or Edom), Arabia, and Tyre (Lebanon).

Isa 34: Retribution upon an Arab enemy (called "Edom"), because of "the controversy of Zion".

Jer 25: Certain nations are singled out to drink of the cup of the Lord's wrath -- ie Egypt, Philistia (modern Gaza), Edom, Moab and Ammon (Jordan), Tyrus and Zidon (Lebanon), and Arabia along with the king of Babylon. The first fulfillment of this prophecy was God's punishment of those nations that assisted Babylon in the overthrow of Jerusalem. Are we on the verge of a repetition of history?

Jer 44 -- 51: Extended prophecies of judgment upon Egypt, Philistia, Moab, Ammon, Edom, Damascus (Syria), Kedar (Arabia), and of course Babylon (cp Jer 25 above).

Rev: Whatever else Rev might mean (and there are various possibilities, and quite prob more than one fulfillment), it is surely noteworthy -- in light of all the foregoing -- that the Book pictures:
  1. "Figs dropping from a fig tree" (cp Luk 21:29-31) at the end of a series of judgments (Rev 6:13). The fig tree is a common symbol for Israel (Hos 9:10; Luk 13:6-9).
  2. A great "army" of locusts coming out of the Abyss (the Arabian Desert?) (Rev 9:1-11). (Note that, in Heb, "locust" = arbeh, or "Arab"; and see Joel's prophecy of a locust invasion of Israel.)
  3. A great destroying power bound at the Euphrates River -- which flows directly through modern-day Iraq (Rev 9:12-21).
  4. Jerusalem being trodden down by its enemies (Rev 11:1-19). This is equivalent to Luk 21:24 and prob the same as Zec 14:1-3. (Cp the great earthquake of Rev 11:13 with Zec 14:4,5.)
  5. A great Beast (who is a man: Rev 13:18; cp esp Nebuchadnezzar in Dan 4:16,25,32,33!), with ten horns (cp Psa 83:5-8 and Gen 15:18-21), blasphemes God and kills His people (Rev 13:1-18).
  6. Finally, great judgments are poured out upon the river Euphrates (Rev 16:12), and Babylon falls (vv 17-21).
  7. The last chapters picture the final and complete victory of a renewed Jerusalem over her vicious enemy Babylon.
Such details are fascinating, in light of quite current events. They should stimulate us to keep our minds open, in the days ahead, to what may be exciting new insights of Bible prophecy being fulfilled in our lifetime!

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