"Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book."
Israel - God's Prophetic Timepiece
The Promised Land
God promised the land of Israel to Abraham:
Genesis 15:17-18 - And it came to pass, when the sun went down and it was dark, that behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a burning torch that passed between those pieces. On the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying: "To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates."
The land is an eternal promise to Abraham's descendants through Isaac:
Genesis 17:7-8 - "I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God."
However, the blessings of the land were contingent on obedience to the Lord. Disobedience resulted in punishment in the form of drought, pestilence, exile, and Gentile rule:
Ezekiel 36:16-19 - Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying: "Son of man, when the house of Israel dwelt in their own land, they defiled it by their own ways and deeds; to Me their way was like the uncleanness of a woman in her customary impurity. Therefore I poured out My fury on them for the blood they had shed on the land, and for their idols with which they had defiled it. So I scattered them among the nations, and they were dispersed throughout the countries; I judged them according to their ways and their deeds."
(See also Leviticus 26)
As predicted by several Old Testament prophets, the Assyrians and Babylonians conquered the two Israeli kingdoms and sent the people into exile. The Old Testament prophets also spoke of a future worldwide exile, which took place after 70AD, when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the temple, as prophesied by Jesus Himself in the "Olivet Discourse." But God promised that He would bring His people back to the land:
Ezekiel 34:13 - And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land; I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, in the valleys and in all the inhabited places of the country.
God's promise for His people to return to the Holy Land was not contingent on anything the people of Israel did. God keeps His promises and protects His Holy Name in doing so:
Ezekiel 36:20-24 - When they came to the nations, wherever they went, they profaned My holy name - when they said of them, 'These are the people of the LORD, and yet they have gone out of His land.' But I had concern for My holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations wherever they went. "Therefore say to the house of Israel, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "I do not do this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for My holy name's sake, which you have profaned among the nations wherever you went. And I will sanctify My great name, which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst; and the nations shall know that I am the LORD," says the Lord GOD, "when I am hallowed in you before their eyes. For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land."'
God will deal with Israel's disobedience one last time during the Tribulation, also called "Daniel's 70th Week":
Daniel 9:24 - "Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity...."
Ezekiel 36:25-28 - Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God.
Zechariah 13:8-9 - "And it shall come to pass in all the land," says the LORD, " That two-thirds in it shall be cut off and die, but one-third shall be left in it: I will bring the one-third through the fire, will refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, and I will answer them. I will say, 'This is My people'; and each one will say, 'The LORD is my God.'"
The prophecy of the dry bones in the passage below specifies that Israel will return to the land in unbelief before they become spiritually alive by accepting their Messiah and receiving the Holy Spirit by the end of the Tribulation (Zechariah 12). We have been witness to fulfillment of the prophecy of the Jews returning to the land in unbelief:
Ezekiel 37:1-6 - The hand of the LORD came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry. And He said to me, "Son of man, can these bones live?" So I answered, "O Lord GOD, You know." Again He said to me, "Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, 'O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD!' Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: "Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the LORD."'
Ezekiel 37:7-10 - So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone. Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them. Also He said to me, "Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live."'" So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army.
Ezekiel 37:11-14 - Then He said to me, "Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, 'Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!' Therefore prophesy and say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves. I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken it and performed it," says the LORD.'"
The Persecution of the Jews
The return of the Jews to the Holy Land largely began and continues due to persecution in the nations they have lived under exile:
Ezekiel 11:16-17 - Therefore say, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Although I have cast them far off among the Gentiles, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet I shall be a little sanctuary for them in the countries where they have gone."' Therefore say, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "I will gather you from the peoples, assemble you from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel."'
Ezekiel 34:27-30 - "...They shall be safe in their land; and they shall know that I am the LORD, when I have broken the bands of their yoke and delivered them from the hand of those who enslaved them. And they shall no longer be a prey for the nations, nor shall beasts of the land devour them; but they shall dwell safely, and no one shall make them afraid. I will raise up for them a garden of renown, and they shall no longer be consumed with hunger in the land, nor bear the shame of the Gentiles anymore. Thus they shall know that I, the LORD their God, am with them, and they, the house of Israel, are My people," says the Lord GOD.
Region called "Palestine
After Great Britain conquered Palestine during World War I, there were steps made towards pledging support for a Jewish state. However, it wasn't until after the Holocaust (a Jewish "calamity" that many Islamic/Arab groups supported and in some cases perpetuated), and World War II, that there was enough sympathetic support in the world to actually bring about an Israeli state. The British Mandate of Palestine was a proposal for two nations, side-by-side: an Arab nation, Trans-Jordan, and a Jewish nation, Israel.
The Palestinians and War
Picture source: Wikipedia
Due to conflict with the Arabs, Great Britain handed the issue over to the United Nations, who further partitioned the land, as shown on the map to the left. All of the Arab leaders voted against it.
After Israel declared their independence, the "ancient hatred" of the Arab nations turned into a war to try to prevent the Jewish nation from coming to fruition, so they could take both nations for themselves. Ironically, these same Arab groups are pushing for a similar partition plan to divide Israel today that they initially rejected.
Israel won their war of independence because God was there with them. However, the Bible is clear that future judgment is coming to these Arab nations because of their "ancient hatred" against Israel, their participation against them in the "calamity" (Baylonian conquest, Roman conquest and/or the Holocaust?), and they want the "two nations" (Israel and Trans-Jordan) for themselves:
Ezekiel 35:5 - "Because you have had an ancient hatred, and have shed the blood of the children of Israel by the power of the sword at the time of their calamity, when their iniquity came to an end."
Ezekiel 35:10-11 - "Because you have said, 'These two nations and these two countries shall be mine, and we will possess them,' although the LORD was there, therefore, as I live," says the Lord GOD, "I will do according to your anger and according to the envy which you showed in your hatred against them; and I will make Myself known among them when I judge you."
God also said that when Israel returns, the land that became desolate after the exile would be blessed again. I have seen with my own eyes that the desert is blooming!
Ezekiel 36:8-11 - But you, O mountains of Israel, you shall shoot forth your branches and yield your fruit to My people Israel, for they are about to come. For indeed I am for you, and I will turn to you, and you shall be tilled and sown. I will multiply men upon you, all the house of Israel, all of it; and the cities shall be inhabited and the ruins rebuilt. I will multiply upon you man and beast; and they shall increase and bear young; I will make you inhabited as in former times, and do better for you than at your beginnings. Then you shall know that I am the LORD.
Ancient Land of Edom
Ironically, it was the improvement in the land after the Jews began their return from exile in the 19th century that drew in the Arab people from the surrounding regions. There is evidence that many of these Arabs are descendants of the ancient Edomites, known later in history as the Idumaeans.
During Israel's War of Independence, over 700,000 Arabs who resided in Israel fled. After the war was over, the surrounding Arab countries refused to absorb these refugees into their countries. Instead, the countries of Jordan and Egypt annexed the Gaza Strip and West Bank through negotiations, and forced the Palestinian refugees to live there.
Israel's War of Independence 1948
These refugees in Israel are known as Palestinians. The passage below in Obadiah accurately describes how the surrounding countries have forced the Palestinian people to live as refugees. These countries have, in effect, been using the Palestinians as pawns to try to divide and destroy Israel, refusing to absorb them into their own countries after Israel won their war of Independence in 1948. The wording about deception and laying a trap supports the notion that the "tents of Edom" are pawns, or bait in a trap being set for Israel:
Obadiah 1:6-7 - Oh, how Esau shall be searched out! How his hidden treasures
Most of the Arab people who live in and around Israel are Muslim. The Jewish state's existence is a direct threat to their religion and belief in the Koran, which is why they deny Israel's sovereignty. Muslims believe that the Jews lost their right to the land because of their disobedience. The Koran teaches that Muslims have to recover land that non-Muslims took from them (Surah 13:41). Therefore, they believe Israel has no right to the Holy Land anymore; that it is Allah's will to take it back.
Some of the more extremist groups believe in the Hadith, a supplemental holy book to the Koran. The Hadith teaches Muslims to kill Jews and Christians because they are infidels (Hadith 9:29). Instead of disbelieving in Islam, they reject Israel being a nation and seek annihilation of the Jews. In doing so, they blaspheme the truth of God's Word:
Ezekiel 35:12-13 - "...I have heard all your blasphemies which you have spoken against the mountains of Israel, saying, 'They are desolate; they are given to us to consume.' Thus with your mouth you have boasted against Me and multiplied your words against Me; I have heard them."
Ezekiel prophesied that God would take the mountains of Israel from Israel's enemies and give it back to them after their return from exile. These ancient heights are the Golan Heights and the mountains in the West Bank:
Ezekiel 36:1-5 - "And you, son of man, prophesy to the mountains of Israel, and say, 'O mountains of Israel, hear the word of the LORD! Thus says the Lord GOD: "Because the enemy has said of you, 'Aha! The ancient heights have become our possession,'"' therefore prophesy, and say, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Because they made you desolate and swallowed you up on every side, so that you became the possession of the rest of the nations, and you are taken up by the lips of talkers and slandered by the people"- therefore, O mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord GOD! Thus says the Lord GOD to the mountains, the hills, the rivers, the valleys, the desolate wastes, and the cities that have been forsaken, which became plunder and mockery to the rest of the nations all around - therefore thus says the Lord GOD: "Surely I have spoken in My burning jealousy against the rest of the nations and against all Edom, who gave My land to themselves as a possession, with wholehearted joy and spiteful minds, in order to plunder its open country."'
Ezekiel's prophecy found fulfillment in the Six-Day-War in 1967, when Israel took back the Golan Heights and the West Bank:
Territory Won by Israel after
Six-Day War 1967
Since the Jews began returning to the land, it has been a constant struggle in the Middle East in the form of wars and terrorism. The Islamic world wants to destroy Israel, while the rest of the world wants to bring peace to the region by dividing Israel and Jerusalem. What the world fails to realize is that Islamic ideology will never allow for a peace agreement to last.
Islam's "culture of death," in the form of raising suicide bombers who believe they are doing the will of Allah, make a difficult situation impossible. The reason the United States became involved in the struggle against Islamic extremists is simply because we are an impediment to their destruction of Israel.
As prophesied in the Bible, this region will continue in turmoil until the Messiah returns:
Zechariah 12:1-3 - The burden of the word of the LORD against Israel. Thus says the LORD, who stretches out the heavens, lays the foundation of the earth, and forms the spirit of man within him: "Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it.
Those who try to divide the land appear as peacemakers. However, they are acting in opposition to God's will, so destruction will come on those who try:
Ezekiel 36:5-7, 12 - Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: "Surely I have spoken in My burning jealousy against the rest of the nations and against all Edom, who gave My land to themselves as a possession, with wholehearted joy and spiteful minds, in order to plunder its open country."' "Therefore prophesy concerning the land of Israel, and say to the mountains, the hills, the rivers, and the valleys, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Behold, I have spoken in My jealousy and My fury, because you have borne the shame of the nations." Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: "I have raised My hand in an oath that surely the nations that are around you shall bear their own shame.... My people Israel; they shall take possession of you, and you shall be their inheritance; no more shall you bereave them of children."
1 Thessalonians 5:3 - For when they say, "Peace and safety!", then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.
The world insists that the answer is to divide tiny Israel, but the Lord says it belongs to Israel. The Arabs want to take all of Israel. But has the Lord been unfair to the Arabs?
Israel and the Arab Countries
Judgment is coming in the form of two wars against Israel's neighbors bent on her destruction, who occupy a large area of the land promised to Israel by God. Unfulfilled prophecies litter the Old Testament prophets that pronounce coming judgment on Israel's immediate neighbors.
In the first war, the Palestinian refugees, who are the "tents of Edom" (Psalm 83:6), will form a confederacy with Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria against Israel. The devastation described on both sides, including the complete destruction of Damascus (Isaiah 17), leads to the conclusion that the threat to Israel's existence is such, that they will have no choice but unleash what they call the "Samson Option," taking down their enemies with massive retaliation in the form of nuclear warfare.
The following scriptures describe this "Great Middle East War":
Before looking at the second war, note that there are two of Israel's neighbors who are not listed as aggressors in either war: Iraq and Egypt.
While it is true that the Assyrians ruled over Babylon before the Babylonian empire rose, the heart of the Assyrian empire covered northern Syria and western Iraq. This is important to note, because Assyria is in the Psalm 83 confederacy. I do not believe Iraq as a nation will be an aggressor in that conflict. Iraq is better represented by the heart of the ancient area of Babylon, which is not in view in the parallel passages to Psalm 83. However, the area of Mosul is in western Iraq and is the same area of ancient Nineveh which gets destroyed in the "Great Middle East War."
In recent history, the Kurds have occupied the ancient area of Nineveh. The Kurds have continuously struggled with both Turkey and the rest of Iraq. There have even been proposals made to allow the Kurds to break away and be their own country. If this occurs before the "Great Middle East War," I wouldn't rule out their direct involvement in the Psalm 83 coalition, as politically they could be considered the heart of ancient Assyria along with Syria.
Another possibility is that rebels aligned with the other Psalm 83 aggressors take over the western part of Iraq before the "Great Middle East War." Interestingly, the terrorist group ISIS has laid claim to most of the territory of ancient Assyria as a result of the civil war in Syria that started in 2011, and the insurgency of western Iraq in the summer of 2014. Note that Babylon is not mentioned in the Psalm 83 confederacy. So if the Iraq insurgency is prophetic, the rebels will not take eastern Iraq. In fact, the goal of ISIS is not to take southern Iraq, but extend their territory south through Lebanon and Israel to form the "Levant." Incidentally, this is roughly the same real estate Israel conquers in the "Great Middle East War." The apparent reshaping of the Middle East suggests that God might be using these conflicts to return the boundaries to their ancient lines before the next prophetic war. If this is the case, Nineveh's destruction is not collateral damage, but a target of war.
Egypt and Israel have a nearly three decade long peace agreement that may hold through future conflicts. However, there are several unfulfilled prophecies in the Old Testament of judgment against Egypt that could keep them out of both wars, discussed in the following study: "Putting the prophetic puzzle pieces together."
The Jews have returned from exile and won the West Bank and the Golan Heights in the Six-Day War. Israel is doing rather well economically and they have recovered from several wars. However, Israel is not living securely with the threat looming by her immediate neighbors. The "Great Middle East War" will wipe out the threat from her neighbors. In addition, Israel's borders will expand east of the Dead Sea, and as a result, Israel's wealth will vastly increase.
Without a doubt, the increase in the size of Israel's real estate alone will dramatically increase their wealth. Joel Rosenberg predicts that the one thing that could really make Israel's wealth increase would be if they found oil. There have been rumors over the past few years that Israel has found a large amount of oil. But recent news reports have said that Israel has discovered enough oil that they could become an exporter of it (source).
The devastation on Israel described in the "Great Middle East War" will be difficult to recover from, especially population-wise. However, the likely rise in anti-Semitism after the war will probably force much of the rest of the world's Jews to move to Israel for safety. God has allowed persecution of the Jews time and again over the past century to re-gather them home:
Ezekiel 28:25-26 - 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "When I have gathered the house of Israel from the peoples among whom they are scattered, and am hallowed in them in the sight of the Gentiles, then they will dwell in their own land which I gave to My servant Jacob. And they will dwell safely there, build houses, and plant vineyards; yes, they will dwell securely, when I execute judgments on all those around them who despise them. Then they shall know that I am the LORD their God."'"
Notice in the passage above that Israel will dwell securely only after God executes judgment on her neighbors "who despise them." After the "Great Middle East War," when God judges Israel's neighbors, the Jewish people will feel secure for the first time since their return from exile, as shown in the passage above. Keep in mind that Israel "dwelling securely" is a prerequisite before the "Gog and Magog War."
Israel's immediate neighbors are conspicuously missing from the list, suggesting that the "Great Middle East War" occurs first, before the "Gog and Magog War." This scenario fits, considering the other prerequisites for the war. God will be judging these nations because they have come against Israel:
Genesis 12:3 - I will bless those who bless you, and curse those who curse you....
This outer-ring of Israel's neighbors has not been directly involved in war with Israel. However, they have supported the inner-ring of Israel's enemies, including the terrorist groups who have been, in effect, fighting a proxy war for this outer ring of nations, namely Iran.
God will judge Islam and atheism in the "Gog and Magog" and "Great Middle East" wars. All the nations in these two wars are Islamic, except Russia. However, while Russians largely profess Orthodox Christianity, the government is atheistic and the Islamic population is growing rapidly there. After God pours out His judgment in these two wars, both Islam and atheism will virtually cease-to-exist:
Zephaniah 2:10-11 - This they shall have for their pride, because they have reproached and made arrogant threats against the people of the LORD of hosts. The LORD will be awesome to them, for He will reduce to nothing all the gods of the earth; people shall worship Him, each one from his place, indeed all the shores of the nations.
Ezekiel 38:22-23 - And I will bring him to judgment with pestilence and bloodshed; I will rain down on him, on his troops, and on the many peoples who are with him, flooding rain, great hailstones, fire, and brimstone. Thus I will magnify Myself and sanctify Myself, and I will be known in the eyes of many nations. Then they shall know that I am the LORD.
The following studies go into more detail on these two wars:
As God turns back to Israel and pours out His Wrath on their enemies, these two wars are likely to usher in the Tribulation, where God will test and refine Israel. As a result, Israel will come to a saving knowledge that Jesus is Messiah (Zechariah 12-14). The events of "Daniel's 70th Week" will begin in Israel, expand out globally, and return back to Israel in Armageddon, right before Jesus returns. Israel is clearly God's "timepiece" and the "epicenter" of prophecy:
Expanding War from the Epicenter
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