February 17, 2010
The Soon Coming Fate of Israel’s Near Neighbors
By: Pastor Bill Randles
Keep not Thou silence O God; hold not thy peace, and be not still, O God. For lo, thine enemies make a tumult; and they that hate Thee have lifted up the head. They have taken crafty counsel against Thy people, and consulted against Thy hidden ones. They have said, Come let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may no more be of remembrance. For they have consulted together with one consent; they are confederate against Thee: The tabernacles of Edom, and the Ishmaelites of Moab, and the Hagarenes; Gebal, and Ammon, and Amalek, the Philistines with the inhabitants of Tyre; Assur also is joined with them, they have helped the children of Lot…(Psalm 83:1-8)
It is an irony that when I became a Christian, in the late 1970’s, the evangelical and Pentecostal world into which I was born again was gripped with the eschatological urgency. One of the best sellers was THE LATE GREAT PLANET EARTH, by Hal Lindsey. There was an evangelistic movie series called A THIEF IN THE NIGHT, about the rapture, and everyone was looking for the signs of the times in current events. And every once in a great while, perhaps every six months or so, an item in the news would send us all to our Bibles for corresponding scriptures.
Here we are thirty years later, and now every single day, eschatological events are lining up for all to see. Geopolitical alignments right out of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and Revelation, and yet the discernment of the significance of these events is rarely appreciated by the churches, teachers, leaders and congregations of evangelicalism. It’s as if the fact that it didn’t happen in 1988, 1994, and of course Y2K, left people feeling a little foolish and embarrassed for their late 1970’s maranatha ardor.
I dedicate this series of articles to the rekindling of that beautiful, passionate, holy longing for the return of the Savior, the Parousia* of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
One of the problems people have in recognizing the significance of the prophetic message has been that they don’t often associate Biblical names for cities, peoples and kingdoms with the modern peoples and places. Once this key is given, one marvels at the detailed description given to us of the very times in which we live in, which are leading to a very real climax, the Apocalypse** of our Lord Jesus Christ to this world
*(Parousia - Greek for actual bodily appearing)
** (Apocalypse - Greek for revealing)
A startling example of the current fulfillment of prophetic geopolitical alignment is Psalm 83. It is a desperate prayer to God by a besieged Israel, asking for a response, a declaration of war, for an action by God against an enemy alliance. All of Israel’s ancient enemies have united against them in an unprecedented “evil alliance” which openly threatens to wipe out the name and existence of Israel.
Evidently, unique circumstances have emboldened these enemies. We are told that “They have lifted up the head" in a heady confidence, “They have taken crafty council together against thy people”, - Israel. They really feel their time has come. Historically this particular alliance has never occurred because there were too many competing interests dividing Israel’s neighbors among themselves - but something has united them enough to transcend their petty differences. I believe that that unifying something is Islam.
Who are these confederated enemies making such a tumult? The following is taken from Walid Shoebat’s excellent book, GOD’S WAR ON TERROR - with my comments in italics.
Edom- which extends from Jordan to Saudi Arabia (see Ezekiel 25 Edom is described as extending from Teman to Dedan (Arabia). Edom also refers to Esau, Jacob’s twin brother, the Edomites are brother people to Israel, but they aren’t very brotherly because they have nurtured an “everlasting Hatred” of Israel, as God describes in a personal word to them in Ezekiel 35. The Muslim Arab near neighbors of Israel, are not only physical descendants of Esau, but they have a spiritual affinity with him, hating Jacob for his birthright.
Moab, Ammon, Children of Lot - Jordan. Moab and Ammon the incestuously conceived ‘children of Lot’ are also related to Israel. Lot was Abraham’s nephew. They too have bought into the hatred, resentment and fear of Israel. Their descendants were the settlers of north and central Jordan. The city of Ammon is named for Ammon.
Gebal - According to the Unger’s bible dictionary, this is in Lebanon, 25 miles north of Beirut. Lebanon was at one time considered the only Christian country in the Middle East, until Syrian Baathists and Islamic marauders dismembered it, driving the Christians out and establishing an Islamic majority, in the late 1970’s. Although there was a “Cedar Revolution” backed by the US in which the Syrians were forced to withdraw from Lebanon, this once beautiful Jewel of the Middle East is now becoming an Islamic pesthole.
Tyre - Again in Lebanon, today this is a center for Hezbollah. Southern Lebanon had retained its Christian identity thanks to the Israeli invasion of 1982, but relentless political pressure forced the Jews to withdraw from it, and into the vacuum stepped Hezbollah, the Iranian backed Shiite “a team” of terrorism. Their latest claim to fame is the relentless showering of northern Israel with rockets.
Philistia - Gaza, today the center for Hamas. Gaza, the southwest corner of Israel, and the site of the ancient Philistine stronghold has become, via world political pressure, a stronghold for the vicious terrorist group Hamas, and a seething cauldron of hatred, murder, and bitterness against Israel. It has also become a staging base for terrorist armies, bent on destroying Israel.
Ishmaelites and Hagarites - Arabs in general. Hagar was the Egyptian handmaid to Sarai, Abraham’s wife, and surrogate mother of Abraham’s son Ishmael. The Muslims proclaim Ishmael as the chosen son of Abraham, and every year celebrate EID, in which they erroneously celebrate the so-called sacrifice of Ishmael. It is he, whom God told Abraham, would be a “wild ass of a man, whose hand would be against everyone, and everyone against him, and who would live against his brothers.” A pretty apt description of the spirit of the Islamic Arab. When Sarai kicked Ishmael and Hagar out of the house, they too began to nourish the resilient “everlasting hatred”.
Assyria - These are Iraq, Syria, and Turkey. At its height it included Egypt and Iran as well. Assyria, the great empire, covered the areas now known as Iraq, parts of Syria, and Turkey. It is now united in Spirit by the religion of Islam.
Amalek - Jordan, southwest of the Dead Sea (Gen14; 7). The Amalekites were the ones who waged a cowardly guerilla terror war against Israel in Exodus 17, killing the old, sick, infirm and also children. Amalek was a grandson of Esau, or Edom.
These are the players of the next great war. They feel emboldened and have lofty ambitions. They aspire to annihilate God’s chosen people, to reverse God’s edict that brought Israel back to the land, they seek to take for themselves and in the name of their false god Allah, that which God, in grace has bequeathed to an admittedly undeserving people, Israel. It is a “battle of the gods” and it should get interesting.
Stay tuned for part 2.