"Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book."
The Great Middle East War - Introduction
The purpose of the following study is to look at prophetic Scripture that may shed light on the reason Israel's immediate neighbors are not part of the "Gog and Magog War."
The interest in a future war involving Israel's immediate neighbors started around the time of the Lebanon war in 2006. A well-preserved Bible dated to the medieval times was found opened to the 83rd Psalm in an Irish bog. This sparked an interest in many prophecy students and teachers of the possibility that this prophetic Psalm about judgment against Israel's neighbors could be fulfilled in the near future.
News clip about the Bible found in the Irish bog in 2006:
I will refer to this war described in Psalm 83 and its parallel passages as the "Great Middle East War." Several prophecy teachers and students have discovered several parallel passages to this war scattered throughout the Old Testament prophets. For this study, I have attempted to put these parallel passages together to show how they all describe the same war.
The author of Psalm 83 is "Asaph the seer," who was a prophet, priest, and musician (2 Chronicles 29:30, 1 Chronicles 16:37, 1 Chronicles 25:6). Psalm 83 is a yet future prophecy because there has been no known fulfillment in Scripture or history. In fact, it seems that this Psalm is speaking of events that could occur today. The seething hatred and common goal the listed members of the confederacy in Psalm 83 have against Israel since their rebirth as a nation has led many to believe, including myself, that fulfillment of this prophetic Psalm could occur soon.
I use Psalm 83 as a starting point in this study because we find all the members of the confederacy against Israel. The parallel passages include many, if not most of the same confederate members grouped together. While some dismiss Psalm 83 as merely an imprecatory prayer, Asaph asks for judgment against a very specific list of enemies that form a confederacy against Israel, which is evidence that this Psalm is about a specific event; the parallel passages confirm that Psalm 83 is about a prophetic war. These passages go into detailed prophetic judgments against each nation and people group, giving us different perspectives on the war, while the parallels in the passages show that they are, in fact, speaking of the same conflict.
The names of the nations and people groups in all the passages are given by their ancient name. By doing a little historical detective work, we will see that ancient people groups that migrated to other places are distinct from the inhabitants that live within the political borders of these ancient lands today, which is probably why the people groups and the nations are both listed.
Before going through the prophetic passages themselves, I'd like to first discuss their fulfillment: past, future, or dual. A dual fulfillment is where a prophecy has a second fulfillment. This is usually seen in the case of the complete fulfillment of a prophecy that was only partly fulfilled in the past. Dual fulfillment of prophecy shows that history repeats itself. As Solomon wrote:
Ecclesiastes 1:9 - That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.
Traditionally, many assume that most unfulfilled prophecies will find fulfillment at the end of the Tribulation. However, there is strong evidence of the defeat of Israel's immediate neighbors and the area of Jordan coming under Israeli sovereignty before the "Gog and Magog War," which most Bible teachers believe will take place as a separate war from Armageddon sometime in the first half of the Tribulation. This study shows that there is scriptural support for the "Great Middle East War" occurring near the beginning of the Tribulation, with the "Gog and Magog War" following shortly after.
When studying prophetic Scripture, we find that the prophets were given only tidbits of future events that many times covered more than one event. History shows that many prophecies have only seen partial fulfillment. The partial fulfillment proved that the prophet was a true prophet. In many prophecies the prophets saw one event, but in reality what God revealed to them covered many events over a long period-of-time. Clarence Larkin illustrates this in the chart found in the following link: "The Mountain Peaks of Prophecy."
It is important to note that many of these parallel passages to Psalm 83 have been partly fulfilled in history. The textual proximity of these partly fulfilled passages to those that have seen complete fulfillment may suggest a future dual fulfillment. I will mention these fulfilled prophecies briefly below. However, in this study we will focus on the unfulfilled prophecies and those partly fulfilled in history.
Before introducing the passages, I should note that I have assumed, with regard to partially fulfilled prophecy, that there will be a dual fulfillment of the first part of the prophecy when the remaining part of the prophecy comes to pass. The reason being, is that the complete fulfillment of a prophecy is usually dependent on the partial fulfillment in a way that it is likely necessary for a repeat to occur of the fulfilled part of the prophecy for the unfulfilled part to come to fruition.
Prophetic passages about the nations in Psalm 83
I placed the parallel passages of the "Great Middle East War" in each section side-by-side. The partially fulfilled and unfulfilled passages mentioned above are all included throughout the rest of the study. After going through this study, I implore you read each passage in its whole to gain a better understanding of what the "Great Middle East" War entails. For your convenience, you can find all these passages on Page 4 of this study.
The "Crafty Counsel"
Psalm 83 opens with a plea to God to save Israel from their enemy neighbors who have come together making threats to destroy them. Destruction of Israel has been the goal of these surrounding Arab nations since the day Israel became a nation in 1948. These nations not only hate Israel, they hate God; they continue to speak blasphemies against God and make threats against Israel.
One thing to point out that we will come back to at the end of the study, is that Israel will be crying out to God for help as they see their enemies gather against them. They will look to God at this point, but not the Messiah. Israel as a nation is spiritually dead because most of them have rejected Jesus as their Messiah, as seen in the imagery of the "dry bones" coming alive in Ezekiel 37, when the people have returned from exile:
Ezekiel 37:1-4 - 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!'"
Ezekiel 37:5-8 - "'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."'" 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.
Ezekiel 37:9-11 - 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. 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!'"
Ezekiel 37:12-14 - "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 people of Israel are coming together as a nation. Israel is yet to have a personal relationship with the Lord corporately; His Spirit is not in them. As we will see later, the "Great Middle East War" will be the spiritual turning point for corporate Israel that will eventually lead to their acknowledgement of Jesus as Messiah by the end of the Tribulation.
The Confederacy against Israel
The Political Areas
Gebal = City in Lebanon
Ammon = Northern Jordan
Amalek = The Negev into the Sinai
Philistia = Gaza
Assyria = Syria into western Iraq
By comparing an ancient map to a current map, it is easy to find the political areas that come against Israel in the "Great Middle East War." The nations within the confederacy are Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. Gaza is technically part of Israel, but today, Arab refugees occupy the land. These refugees are known today as the Palestinians, who are trying to form a nation apart from Israel, consisting of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
The People Groups
Ishmaelites = Arabs
Hagrites = Clan of Ishmaelites
Inhabitants of Tyre = Lebanese
The Descendants of Lot
= Moabites and Ammonites
The people groups are a little fuzzier to discern. Why are the people groups listed separate from the nations? I think the answer lies in the political situation that will be in place in the areas surrounding Israel at the time that this war takes place.
Israel is no only surrounded by hostile nations, but also hostile refugee and terrorist groups that live within Israel's borders and her neighbors' borders. The historical migration of these people groups will help show who they are today. In the following section, we will take a closer look at just the people groups and who they are.
The "Tents of Edom":
Bill Salus, author of the book "Isralestine," has presented convincing research identifying the "tents of Edom." I definitely recommend reading his book for the background info on how he came to his conclusions. The following history is what you need to know for the purpose of this study.
Jacob's brother Esau founded the nation Edom, which lies in the southern area of current day Jordan. Jacob and Esau's mother Rebekah had a difficult pregnancy because the twin brothers struggled within her womb (Genesis 25). The struggle continued through their lives. Esau despised his birthright and Jacob tricked Esau into receiving the blessing of the firstborn, which included the promises made to Abraham by God. Esau's descendants have continued to struggle with Israel throughout history.
Edom eventually became a smaller area known as Idumea. Many of the Edomites migrated north and lived among the Jews. The Idumeans were still recognized during the time of Christ. Many Idumenas lived in the kingdom of Judah during Jesus' time. Herod the Great was himself an Idumean. The Idumeans as a people, disappeared around the same time of the exile of the Jews around 70AD.
As there is no historical genocide recorded, it is generally accepted that the Idumeans absorbed into the surrounding people groups and are now represented among the present day Arab people; particularly the Palestinians. What is interesting about identifying the long-lost Edomites as the "tents of Edom," is that it is a picture of a people without a nation, which could describe a nomadic, or a refugee group.
During Israel's "War of Independence," over 700,000 Arabs that resided in Israel fled. After the war was over, the surrounding Arab countries refused to absorb these refugees into their countries. Today, these refugees in Israel are known as the Palestinians. The Arab countries have used these refugees as pawns to try to divide and destroy Israel. Therefore, it is easy to see how the "tents of Edom" appropriately describe the Palestinians of today. These descendants of Jacob and Esau are still struggling over the right to the land promised to Abraham.
Palestinian refugee camps 1948
Ishmaelites and Hagrites:
The Ishmaelites as a people, migrated to the area of eastern Jordan and into Saudi Arabia:
Genesis 25:17-18 - These were the years of the life of Ishmael: one hundred and thirty-seven years; and he breathed his last and died, and was gathered to his people. (They dwelt from Havilah as far as Shur, which is east of Egypt as you go toward Assyria.) He died in the presence of all his brethren.
The Ishmaelites disappeared from history after the time of David's reign. Most assume that they absorbed into the surrounding people and represent many of the Arabs that live in Israel's neighboring countries.
The Hagrites were Ishmaelites who took the matron name:
The Bible shows us that the Hagrites migrated east of Israel and lived in eastern Jordan (Gilead was in northwest Jordan) and some lived within Israel like Jaziz:
1 Chronicles 5:10 - Now in the days of Saul they made war with the Hagrites, who fell by their hand; and they dwelt in their tents throughout the entire area east of Gilead.
1 Chronicles 27:31 - ...and Jaziz the Hagrite was over the flocks. All these were the officials over King David's property.
Some believe that the Hagrites in Psalm 83 represent Egypt because Hagar was originally from Egypt, but history and the Bible show that the Hagrites migrated east of Israel. I believe it is a stretch to say that the largely unknown Hagrites represent Egypt, as Egypt is otherwise a very prominent country throughout the Bible. Let me explain it in a different way:
The point here is that we need to look at where the Hagrites migrated and settled, not where they originated from. Both the Bible and history confirm that the Hagrites settled east of Israel, which means Egypt is not an aggressor in Psalm 83.Inhabitants of Tyre:
Tyre was a city in southern Lebanon, where in the last century terrorist groups have launched weapons against Israel. Hezbollah is the primary terrorist group. These terrorist organizations working separate from the government, for the most part, could be why both a place and a people group represent Lebanon in the Psalm 83 coalition.The Descendants of Lot:
Genesis 19:36-38 - Thus both the daughters of Lot were with child by their father. The firstborn bore a son and called his name Moab; he is the father of the Moabites to this day. And the younger, she also bore a son and called his name Ben-Ammi; he is the father of the people of Ammon to this day.
The descendants of Lot are the Moabites and the Ammonites, who lived in the central and northern part of current day Jordan. Like Edom, these nations disappeared from history. Most presume that the people of Moab and Ammon absorbed into the surrounding nations when they fell in conquest.
We can see that not only will the nations that surround Israel take part in the "Great Middle East War," but also that people groups like the Palestinian refugees, and terrorists such as Hezbollah and Hamas, who have had an "ancient hatred" toward Israel, will all be included in this war. In light of the current political situation, it is not hard to see that we live in a time when this prophetic war could occur soon. We will take a closer look at all these groups again in more detail as we go through the parallel passages in the rest of the study.
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