A Bible Study by Jack Kelley
Hezbollah says that Israel’s disappearance after the next war is an established fact. Iran’s President has called Israel a dirty microbe and a savage animal that will soon disappear in a flash. The commander in chief of Iran’s army predicts that millions will soon receive the joyous news of Israel’s destruction. Israel’s chief of staff warns of a “tough ordeal” coming soon.
With all the rhetoric flying around the Middle East about a major war this summer, and with multiple countries (including the US) rapidly beefing up their military preparedness, a quick review of Psalm 83 is in order to refresh our minds on the prophetic details of this coming attack against Israel.
Psalm 83 was probably written some time after the end of King Solomon’s reign (about 900 BC) but the Bible contains no account of such a coordinated effort by all of Israel’s neighbors to destroy them, either during that time or since. A partial fulfillment may be in view in 2 Chron. 20 when Moab, Ammon, and parts of Edom invaded Judah during King Jehosophat’s reign (872-848 BC) Interestingly, Jahaziel, a Levite who prophesied Judah’s victory in that battle was a descendant of Asaph, who wrote Psalm 83. Applying one of his favorite tactics, the Lord set Israel’s enemies against each other and they defeated themselves. Ezekiel 38:21 tells of a future use of this same tactic.
But the Battle of 2 Chron. 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 could be the bridge between the current state of affairs in Israel and the conditions necessary for the Battle of Ezekiel 38 to happen. Let’s find out.
O God, do not keep silent; be not quiet, O God, be not still. See how your enemies are astir, how your foes rear their heads. With cunning they conspire against your people; they plot against those you cherish.
“Come,” they say, “let us destroy them as a nation, that the name of Israel be remembered no more.”
With one mind they plot together; they form an alliance against you- the tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites, of Moab and the Hagrites, Gebal, Ammon and Amalek, Philistia, with the people of Tyre. Even Assyria has joined them to lend strength to the descendants of Lot. (Ps. 83:1-8)
The language 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. 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.
Do to them as you did to Midian, as you did to Sisera and Jabin at the river Kishon, who perished at Endor and became like refuse on the ground. Make their nobles like Oreb and Zeeb, all their princes like Zebah and Zalmunna, who said, “Let us take possession of the pasturelands of God.”
Make them like tumbleweed, O my God, like chaff before the wind. As fire consumes the forest or a flame sets the mountains ablaze, so pursue them with your tempest and terrify them with your storm. Cover their faces with shame so that men will seek your name, O LORD. May they ever be ashamed and dismayed; may they perish in disgrace. Let them know that you, whose name is the LORD—that you alone are the Most High over all the earth. (Psalm 83:9-18)
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.
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. As of this week, Syria has 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. 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. 05-29-10