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The Gogian Conflict of Ezekiel 38 and 39 Compared to that of the Proximal Islamic Nations with Israel

                                                                   

An Examination of the Scriptural References
In Which These Two Conflicts
Are Described a
nd Differentiated

 Harold E. Lafferty
Maryland  USA

A Publication of Gospel Publicity League

New South Wales, Australia

August  2010

 

 The Gogian Conflict of Ezekiel 38 and 39 Compared to that of the Proximal Islamic Nations with Israel

(Click on the chart to enlarge it.)

Everyone who has an interest in Bible prophecy surely should be curious about the thoughts of other people who are also interested in such happenings. This curiosity surely should include listening occasionally to the ideas and theories of the radio and TV “evangelists” who regularly comment on prophecy. I am thinking of Jack Van Impe (Troy MI), Hal Lindsey (Dallas TX), John Hagee (San Antonio TX), and Perry Stone (Cleveland TN) and others. These men broadcast at various times throughout the USA and all of them maintain web sites where their teachings are published. They also may be heard internationally over the TBN Network.

Mr. Van Impe and all the others are obsessed with something they specify as “the seven years tribulation” which is a reflection of their misunderstanding of the Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks of Daniel 9: 24 - 27. They are also obsessed with the invasion of Israel by Gog of the Land of Magog, the Chief Prince of Meshech and Tubal. But, like many others, the “proof texts” that they use include Daniel 11, Micah 5, Ezekiel 35, Obadiah, Psalm 83, Isaiah 11, Isaiah 63 and numerous others which do not apply to that prophecy.

Unfortunately many expositors closer to home – with whom we are personally acquainted – make the same mistakes, and have done so for 150 years or more! They seem to be on the edge of their seats expecting the Gogian host to assemble at any time and swoop down on the mountains of Israel to do great harm to the Jewish State. But that is NOT in the offing at all (the doing harm part) and the invasion doesn’t seem likely to happen for a few years yet. Other events are far more imminent and more important!

Since the numerous related scriptural revelations dealing with the great body of most important events which are slated to occur PRIOR to the Gogian affair have previously been reviewed exhaustively, we will not review these again at this time, but will refer to many of them in making a circumstantial comparison of these two separate conflicts in the remainder of this article. By now we are without excuse for not knowing they exist and that they depict conflicts that quite obviously MUST occur prior to the Gogian affair. If we seem to stress these affairs at an undue level it is because their understanding is VITAL to a comprehensive, sensible understanding of Endtime affairs.

There are many points of conflict between the two bodies of prophecy. We shall list and discuss several of them here:

1. The named countries taking part in the two conflicts are entirely different from each other. A great number of scattered prophecies of the coming destruction of the nations “round about’ Israel exist which, when carefully studied, indicate that they describe the wars of Phase One of the Endtime wars of Israel. You should search all these to satisfy your mind that the named city-states, nations and areas are NOT part of the Gogian coalition. They exclusively reveal the destruction of the present “hot” enemies of Israel – those who have been actively fighting against God’s people for 62 years – since the founding of the Jewish State in May, 1948.

A convenient list is found all in one chapter in the Psalms – in Asaph’s inspired prayer which is designated Psalm 83. If you check closely there are ten listed entities who are named as rabid and determined enemies of Israel in the last days: they are enemies of God (verses 1, 2) and of “Israel” – a nation which has only existed in modern times, since 1948! [And they have nothing whatever to do with the toes of Daniel’s Image!]

Compare this list with that of the Gogian confederacy of Ezekiel 38. You will not find one of them named alongside Magog, Meshech, and Tubal of verse 2, or “Persia, Ethiopia (Cush) and Libya” of verse 5, or “Gomer and Togarmah” of verse 6.

This fact alone should be a warning flag, but many ignore it. If these nations “round about” Israel were then still in existence, the armies of Gog would be required to pass through at least two or three of them in order to meet the site of their ultimate defeat. But none of them are even mentioned. It is as if they no longer exist! May we state positively that it appears to be a provable assessment: they DO NO LONGER exist!

There are several reasons for that conclusion. We will point out only one at this juncture, and that is Ezekiel 39: 11: “I will give unto Gog a place there of graves IN ISRAEL, the valley of the passengers on the east of the sea … and there shall they bury Gog and his entire multitude, and they shall call it the Valley of Hamon-Gog.” This designated place of graves “IN ISRAEL,” according to Young, is east of the Sea of Galilee in Gilead-Bashan – specifically it is the valley of the Yarmuk River – where the dead are partially devoured by “the fatlings of Bashan," the beasts of that region.

But today, the Yarmuk, and Gilead and Bashan are in Jordan – not in Israel. This presents an obvious dilemma: how does this specifically named area get to be the possession of Israel? Why does Jordan at that future time no longer possess it? I believe it is because Israel shall have fought against Moab, Ammon and Edom (modern Jordan) and defeated her and taken her lands. There is no other answer – IS THERE?? They and ALL the others have been destroyed in Phase One. The Gogian portion we designate as Phase Two.

In Phase Two, as already noted, an entirely different set of antagonists are specifically listed. These are the DISTAL Islamic enemies of Israel (the Outer Ring), together with their mentor, financier, guard, and leader, Gog.

2. When Christ has destroyed the enemies of Phase One, as we shall note, the Master disarms His people. Zechariah 9: 10: “And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off, and He shall speak peace unto the heathen…” From that moment forward His people dwell in peace and in confidence (Heb. betach = safely or confidently).

It is not a figment of Israel’s imagination. That condition of total safety is described only AFTER the end of Phase One. That is not their condition at the beginning of that phase, but is as we see it today: one of the best citizen armies in the world; a superb air force; a blended, competent navy; nuclear weapons (though not acknowledged); and some of the most highly engineered equipment of any force on earth. The military is in full view at all times. The newly constructed concrete WALL rises to as many as 30 feet in height. Israel is a land of bars and gates, walled villages (watch towers), and vigilant police forces and secret intelligence services.

However, Ezekiel points out more than once that Israel, when Gog attacks her, IS DWELLING SAFELY (38: 8, 11, 14). And this safety of Israel is NOT a fanciful imagination or the object of her hopes at that time; she REALLY IS dwelling in safety and confidently. The first two verses voice Gog’s opinion that Israel at least thinks it is dwelling safely and peacefully; but the third reference is concrete proof by the Almighty’s word that Israel is, indeed, dwelling safely – for is now under the protection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Given the present circumstances of Israel, and of any foreseeable future circumstances, Israel shall have neither peace nor security short of the Second Advent of Christ. She certainly shall receive neither of these as a gratuitous benefit from the “Palestinians,” the PA, or the PLO – for their “peace process” is not a real peace process at all, but an intentional “phased conquest” of Israel by whatever means they can devise. They tried to defeat Israel for 45 years by military means and could not even remotely perform that desire.

Their approach now, admittedly (even by them) is to squeeze Israel for every concession they can think of IN THE NAME OF PEACE, then renew the “jihad” [“holy war.”]    Please see Joel 3:9, where the word “prepare,” as in “Prepare war! Wake up the mighty men...” is Hebrew QADASH (Strong H6942) which means “to make, pronounce, or observe as clean (ceremonially, or morally): appoint, consecrate, dedicate, hallow, keep holy, prepare, proclaim, purify, sanctify...” It is precisely this attitude of the Arabs and Islam toward getting their own way about literally anything that makes this word so remarkable.  Their term for aggression of any kind related to their “religion” is JIHAD, which means literally “HOLY WAR.” They literally CONSECRATE war, terrorism, insurrection, sabotage, overthrow of institutions for their own purposes!] in order completely to remove Israel from the land and take it for themselves. (Precisely their deadly, deceptive plan, as outlined in Psalm 83!) Their delaying tactics have recently taken on the mien of discrediting – of delegitimizing – Israel by means of the UNO’s Goldstone Report, UNO sanctions, and constant complaints and whining. They now claim that Israel’s newly found gas and oil field in the Mediterranean is actually the property of Lebanon!!

3. The place of the defeat of these two groups is decidedly different from each other. The Proximal Islamic nations are defeated mostly IN THEIR OWN TERRITORIES, which are almost altogether OUTSIDE the perimeters of Israel as it is now constituted, that is, except for the enemy ALREADY within (i.e., the PA/ PLO) and the prizes of Obadiah adjacent to their borders.

The Gogian host, in contrast, is destroyed east of the Sea of Galilee in newly conquered territory belonging to Israel. Ezekiel details Gog’s destruction in almost half of chapter 39. Gog comes to conquer Israel and inherits graves in Israel instead – probably in a time-span of one day!

4. In addition to their humiliating defeat, the Proximal enemies will have their lands confiscated, along with their wealth and other properties, their oil and minerals, as indicated in those several passages which state, for example, that “...the wealth of all the heathen round about shall be gathered together, gold, and silver, and apparel, in great abundance...” (Zechariah 14:14). That means their lands and other properties are confiscated by Him as well and become part of Greater Israel!

In contrast to Proximal Islam, Gog and his Distal Islamic forces are defeated WITHIN ISRAEL of that day. Their lands are not indicated as being taken by Christ as part of His immediate kingdom.

5. Whereas no details seem to be given as to the burial of the Proximal enemies of Phase One, great detail is given about the burial of Gog. And note, please, that in neither conflict Israelis shall NOT have been displaced and removed from the Land and ravaged as some think they will be, for WHO BURIES GOG? From Ezekiel’s account in 39:9, it is quite a calm if somber affair, and executed entirely by the Israeli populace! “And they who dwell (the population has not been displaced by Gog!) in the cities of Israel (the cities have not been destroyed by Gog!) shall go forth, and shall set on fire and burn the weapons, both the shields and bucklers...with fire for SEVEN YEARS....and SEVEN MONTHS shall the house of Israel be burying of them, that they may cleanse the land. Yea ALL THE PEOPLE OF THE LAND shall bury them (there is quite evidently no mass destruction of Israeli lives NOR any “CAPTIVITY” of them indicated here!); and it shall be TO THEM a renown THE DAY that I shall be glorified.”  In other words, it will be an impressive affair – to  remember all the remainder of their lives – and perhaps throughout eternity!

6. Note, also, that in many, many of these references, the NAMED Proximal Islamic states are referred to as “ALL the heathen (or nations) ROUND ABOUT;” that is, all who LIVE round about Israel, not all of a body of enemies who have gathered round about for their attack, as some have argued. But the Gogian host is not described in words remotely similar to all these, for that host of military personnel are SPECIFICALLY NAMED as being from the far-flung countries listed in Ezekiel 38 and 39, and certainly are not describable as the “nations round about” Israel. The grouping of enemies is entirely different for the two conflicts.

7. ALL the nations!” I believe that Zechariah 14:2 is speaking of those same Proximal Arab nations when He (God) said that “I will gather ALL nations against Jerusalem for battle, and the city shall be taken...the houses rifled...the women ravished, and HALF of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people (Israelis!) shall NOT be cut off from the city.” So “all” is limited to the defined group, and does not mean “every one” – every one of the nations that have fought against Jerusalem at that point in time, as in Zechariah 14: 12; their destruction shall be unusually horrible. Paul uses similar language when he says that “we must all appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ…” but does not mean “everyone in the world.”

This division of the city, by the way, is a most unusual result of a battle, and another marked difference in the two sets of accounts. So unusual that, for it to be repeated in history (for it HAS already happened, 1948 and 1967!) would be for our Father to confuse our clear insight into at least some prophetic matters.

It occurred in 1948, when Jordan’s Arab Legion was able to overcome the Jewish civilians (and a few soldiers) in the Old City and forced the surrender of these Jews, and of the Old City, about two days before a truce was arrived at in August, 1948.

The City was therefore divided precisely into two halves for 19 years (until 1967). But the residue of the people (the Jews) in Western Jerusalem were “not cut off” from their half of the City. Indeed, they felt so secure that they established the capital of Israel there, built the governmental infrastructure there, and operated almost as if they already owned the entire city -- which, of course, they did annex after Moshe Dayan and the IDF finally took the Old City during the Six Day War! For the first time since the seventh century BC, Israel was an internationally recognized State, and was in legal control (Biblically) and possession of their eternal capital!

Whereas the Proximal Islamic enemy (namely, Jordan, in this case) DID take half of Jerusalem, and did hold it for 19 years, such an event is NOT described as a feature of the attempted Gogian invasion of the land!

The reason for this is quite simple: the Gogian host is defeated LONG BEFORE it can reach Jerusalem, or even penetrate very far into the Land as it is today bordered. The Gogian host is defeated, evidently in an extremely short space of time, and buried , ENTIRELY WITHIN Israel (Ezekiel 39: 11), but IN OR NEAR ONE PLACE (the Valley of Hamon-gog), for, as a fellow Bible student has pointed out, one doesn’t bury a huge host (millions!) of dead military personnel someplace other than where they were killed, especially if the number is so great as to require seven months to cleanse the land of their carcasses! (Ezekiel 39: 12)

Contemporary examples of this local burial practice of the military dead are the huge American military cemeteries at Chateau Thierry (second Battle of the Marne), Omaha Beach and Utah Beach  (the D-Day invasion of Fortress Europe), etc., in France, where huge numbers of Americans were slain in WW I and II, and the locations where they were also buried. Only a few bodies were transported to the USA for burial; they were not largely moved anywhere else, but they were buried where they fell.

The Gogian host evidently falls (and is certainly buried!) “East of the Sea” (Ezekiel 39:11) indicated to be in Bashan (c.f., 39:18), so east of the Sea of Galilee where the birds of the air and the beasts of the field shall feed on their carcasses. No such burial is indicated for the Proximal foes; indeed, no burial at all is described in scores of references.

This location is absolutely CENTRAL to the great migratory pathway of teeming millions of birds which, twice a year, overfly Israel, specifically, on their way north in the spring from their winter habitats in East Africa and Madagascar, and on their way south in the fall from their nesting and hatching grounds in East Europe, West Asia and the Steppes. It is estimated that 500 million birds overfly Israel each spring and fall; autumn) of this immense number, about 15% are said to be raptors, which are flesh-eating birds! These voracious raptors are thus scheduled for an incredible feast just after Gog and his host sallies forth in its finest battle dress to meet its unexpected fate at Hamon-gog!

 8. Whereas the tenor and text of the above references about the Proximal Islamic enemies shows that their hatred, their attacks, their vituperation, their slander and blasphemy against God and against Israel is continually on-going – and whereas they have attacked Israel overtly in national warfare at least FOUR times during the Phase One conflicts -- Ezekiel 38 and 39 depict only ONE attack upon Israel by the Gogian host and his Distal Islamic cohorts. Up until the day of this writing, NONE of the Distal Islamic enemies of Israel have actually sent forces to attack her physically. That destiny and fate awaits them!

Why do you think that NONE of the Distal Islamic enemies have physically attacked Israel during the 62 years of Phase One so far? Well, partially because they are a separate attack force, and it is not their “TIME” TO DO SO. Their rationale for attacking Israel has not yet even appeared, or “developed;” their cohesive factors have not yet come about. They do not yet know that they are to be an organized confederacy against God’s people! And all this is superficially true because they have not yet perceived the need to do so; they have not been sufficiently provoked to do so, and shall NOT be until the Proximal Islamic states and armies have been destroyed, and until Gog is brought to think seriously about Israel’s newly acquired spoil.

It seems more than likely that  this “evil thought” (Ezekiel 38:10) comes to Gog largely at the suggestion of the newly-independent, northern (Magogian) republics whose populations are almost entirely Islamic and who (at this time spoken of) have watched with dismay  and alarm, the destruction of  their Islamic  associates, by Israel.

 It also comes, certainly, at the behest of Iran and Libya with their enormous coffers of oil revenues with which to pay the Gogian host for being  mercenaries in their disagreement with Israel. It is entirely possible that the promise to Russia of great wealth by the Moslems of the Distal Ring,  is probably the “hook” that God places in the jaws of Gog to compel him to make this audacious move upon His people!

On the other hand, the Proximal Islamic states have been, in the fullest sense, a “pricking brier unto the house of Israel,” a “grieving thorn of all that are round about them, which despised them...” (Ezekiel 28:24). These surrounding neighbors attack Israel and Israelis at EVERY opportunity. They prick, stick, and nick Israel in many ways DAILY. Their hatred is deep, constant, and bloody. Their propaganda against God’s people is endless, and extremely well accepted by the prejudicial anti-Semites of the world!

9. Why does God’s fury “come up in My face?” (Ezekiel 38:18) only when Gog attacks Israel, when this has not happened at the numerous times the Proximal Arabs have attacked the state in its earlier history? The Almighty must be presently incensed, and greatly moved by the incessant attacks of the Proximal Arabs upon His people, but is willing to allow Israel to bear these attacks in preparation for their redemption, brought about by an enormous and undeniable display of His Omnipotent power wreaked upon the surrounding millions who taunt His people daily.

Thus He is  not raised to action NOW.   Why then  shall He be when Gog comes against His re-gathered people.  The reason is that He will firstly see, in the near future, His Son Jesus the Christ ruling in Jerusalem after subduing the ‘ nations round about’ and the status of His chosen people will have changed. The Proximal Islamic Arabs will have been destroyed but they will be followed by hordes of other people from distant parts, all bent on attacking Israel, whereas Jesus is there.

Jesus will have ‘saved His people’ and their nation from destruction. He will have “made Himself known”  to Israel (Ezekiel 35:11) and they shall have accepted Him with loving grateful and repentant hearts. When Gog attacks therefore, the Father’s fury will know no bounds as He sees this enormous army of people intent on confronting His Son.

We must keep in mind that, at the time spoken of above, Christ and the Saints - and Israel His people - need no protection from anyone.  Indeed the Lord Jesus is certainly present when the Gogian affair begins, but neither Jesus nor Israel will need to lift a hand against Gog, or be alarmed, for the Father will destroy Gog, with the ‘seven weapons’ enumerated in Ezekiel 38:21,22  which are specifically, an earthquake, the sword of every enemy against another, pestilence, blood, hailstones, fire and brimstone !  Thus shall Gog’s destruction be violent, immutable and utterly final:  not one soul (person) of Gog’s host will be left alive according to most other texts, except the AV.

At the time of the final conflict of Phase One, Jesus shall have come personally to save His natural brethren. This Jesus, Son of God, has already inherited and has borne for over 1,900 years, the title of Lord of Hosts, or Yahweh Tz’vaoth,  which is  also one of the names of His Father. Still, in this account, the Almighty indicates that it is HE, who with a spoken word, with the  breath  (command)  of His  lips,  destroys this and any other offending party (Isaiah 11:4).   In the second attack – that of Gog – His fury shall flare brightly and with immense hostility and the Phase Two enemies immediately become a notable casualty of history!

10. No response whatever by Israelis – that is, the Jews of Israel – is mentioned by Ezekiel as a result of the battle with Gog.

But there is a significant response by them to the forces of Proximal Islam! And it clearly is that Israelis are, at that time, mobilized to stand against those enemies, and later to recognize the Returned Christ as their true Messiah. Christ’s defeat of the Proximal Arabs on their behalf specifically brings their highly emotional recognition of Him as their Messiah, and depict their deeply felt and expressed REPENTANCE when they recognize Him, as recorded in Zechariah 12:10 to 14 and Zechariah 13:6. Even over and above those enemies’ terrible defeat, this is the most remarkable result of the final conflicts of Phase One. For when HE appears, they shall be brought to recognize Him by the unprecedented deeds that He performs in saving His people from destruction, an identity that is clinched by the evidence of the remaining scars from His crucifixion nearly 2,000 years ago.

Only a hint of such an after-effect to the invasion and defeat of the Gogians of the Phase Two affair is given. The main effect of the Gogian conflict, besides that host’s destruction, is the recognition of Christ by the people of the nations who attacked Israel. (Ezekiel 39:7).

We qualify this statement as follows: after having specified that recognition of Him comes from “the nations who attacked Israel” in the Gogian Phase, it becomes evident that even THAT recognition is NOT UNIVERSAL, and excludes all the other nations who were not included in the Gogian conspiracy.

He STILL is not “known” among all the remaining nations. If so, why would the nations of the West continue to resist Him, as we know the Man of Sin (the False Prophet) of Revelation 17-18 does, as well as the Beast of Europe? It is clear that THAT portion of “the nations” does NOT recognize Him, but sincerely regard Him as “the Anti-Christ” of their mythology.

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The Current Battle for The Holy Land

Graham Bacon

Rockets on Israel

The recent conclusion of the second Lebanon war [August 2006] between Israel and Hizb’Allah seems, from a Bible prophetic aspect, to be another step towards a more extensive conflict, the creation of a Greater Israel. This recent war involved the introduction of Hizb’Allah as a major Israeli foe. The first Lebanon war involved Israel’s temporary occupation of south Lebanon between 1982 and 2000. A future Lebanon war will be part of a series of events that will culminate in Israel regaining all the territories allocated to the twelve tribes in the time of Joshua, territory that will include south Lebanon and Gaza. This booklet attempts to place the recent war in a context of likely future events leading to the establishment of God’s kingdom on earth.

THE BACKGROUND

God’s Choice of Land and People

The Holy Land is well named. In a broad sense it is that geographical area between, in an east/west direction, the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea and the mountains of the Kingdom of Jordan, and from theLitani River in the north to the Sinai desert in the south. At its most basic it is the land upon which the twelve tribes of Israel were established in the time of Joshua at God’s instructions, although it has a larger definition in a future context, extending north to the Euphrates River [Joshua 1:4]. In Joshua chapters 11 to 18, each of the twelve tribal areas are carefully defined by God in detail, with the city of Jerusalem as the centre piece.

Twelve times from Deuteronomy 12:5 to 2 Chronicles 12:13GodinstructstheIsraelites throughthe Old Testament authors that, of all the places in the world, God intended to place his name in that city. The first reference, “You shall seek the place where the Lord your God chooses, out of all your tribes to put his name for his dwelling place, and there you shall go” and the last reference, “[Israel King Rehoboam] reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city which the Lord had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel.”

There can be no questioning of the divine record that the Jews of Israel have been granted the possession of the Holy Land, even though it has been temporarily interrupted by two exiles. Abraham left Ur of the Chaldees at God’s invitation and stood in the middle of the Promised Land and God said, “Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are - northward, southward, eastward and westward; for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever” Genesis 13:14-15. Fourteen hundred years later, Zechariah wrote of Israel and of those nations who had disputed with Israel ownership of the Holy Land, “He who touches you touches the apple of his [God’s] eye. For surely I will shake my hand against them...the Lord will take possession of Judah as his inheritance in the Holy Land, and will again choose Jerusalem” [2:8-12].

In AD70 the Romans drove the Jews from the Holy Land into an 1878 year long exile as a judgment of God against them for rejecting Jesus as their Messiah. The Jews were scattered abroad and the land became desolate and uncared for. Over time it was occupied by several conquerors and and a sprinkling of neighbourhood Arabs. But God promised the Jews that they would be regathered and returned to the Holy Land, “I will bring back my captives of my people Israel...I will plant them in their land and no longer shall they be pulled up from the land that I have given them” Amos 9:14-15. The renewal process began in 1948 with the rebirth of the nation, modern Israel.

This generated two problems with the Arabs. Those already living in the land, calling themselves Palestinians, naturally objected to being taken over by Jews. It is unfortunate for them that they have been overtaken by the effects of God’s ancientpromisesto the Jews. All the resistance in the world will not affect the outcome - the continuing presence of the Israelis.

The second difficulty is that, in general, Arab leaders regard the Israeli presence in the Holy Land as a challenge to the Islamic religion. They go back to Abraham’s sons, Isaac and Ishmael, and grandsons, Jacob and Esau, citing Ishmael as the firstborn child and entitled to the promise of the Holy Land. This contest has been ongoing for 4000 years and is a basis for the current battle. The flaw in this claim is that God has made a choice, “Jacob have I loved but Esau have I hated” Romans 9:13. God has decreed that the line of “promise inheritors” is through Isaac, Jacob and the nation of Israel. The Palestinians dispute this at their peril. This is the background to the present confrontation in the Holy Land.

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE CURRENT BATTLE

Since 1948 dozens of wars, skirmishes, battles and bombings have composed the modern mosaic of disputation of possession of the Holy Land. The latest Lebanon war and the Gaza rocketing are recent links in a long chain of events in this divinely appointed battle field.

Fiery Flying Serpents

The 2006 Israeli invasion of Lebanon and frequent incursions into Gaza were partly undertaken to counter constant rocket attacks on Israeli towns. More than 4000 rockets were fired at Israel in a few weeks and up to ten a day continue to be dispatched by Hamas from Gaza. No nation can allow this situation to continue indefinitely. Israel has retaliated with her own rocket attacks on vehicles used by Hamas leaders.

There is a remarkable prophetic prediction about rocket attacks. “Do not rejoice, all you of Philistia, because the rod that struck you is broken; for out of the serpent’s roots will come forth a viper, and its offspring will be a fiery flying serpent” Isaiah 14:29. How could a Bible prophet 2700 years ago describe a modern rocket? Only by an imaginative picture drawing on his own times - a “fiery flying serpent”. But evenmoreremarkably, Isaiahpinpointed the very area that is causing Israel great concern about rocket attacks - Philistia -

modern Gaza. The prophet is saying, “Don’t rejoice because king Ahaz is dead. By a series of events, firstly you Philistines will be removed (by the Assyrians)but, in the latter days, “all you of Philistia will be dissolved” v.31. These Palestinian rocket attacks cannot be ignored indefinitely. It seems that nothing short of a complete takeover of Gaza by Israel, as indicated in Bible prophecy, will cut off these attacks and “dissolve” Gaza.

The Current Threat to Israel

There are two major threats to Israel on its borders. One is the long standing challenge by the Palestinians, scattered all round Israel, presently centred in Gaza, a “pricking briar and a painful thorn” of Ezekiel 28:24. The other is the more recent and potent confrontation by the Iranian backedHizb’Allah on the northern Lebanon border. This combined threat will still be ongoing when Jesus Christ returns. Isaiah 63 depicts Israel’s saviour, in his divine strength, disposing of Israel’s enemies around her borders. “There shall no longer be a pricking briar and a painful thorn for the house of Israel from among all those who are around them, who despise them.”

There are extensive prophecies relating to the current battle in its various forms. Two of them relate to the huge diplomatic propaganda war against Israel. Yasser Arafat was a skilled practitioner of the art who infamously maintained that Israel had no heritage in the Holy Land and no ancient history of occupation. Through Ezekiel God says, “I have heard all your blasphemies which you have spoken against the mountains of Israel...the whole earth will rejoice when I make you desolate” [35:12-14]. This prophecy could have been specifically directed at Arafat and applies to all the Arab propaganda in the UN and elsewhere.

The Bible prophet Zephaniah follows the same theme. “I have heard the reproach of Moab and the insults of the people of Ammon [in a modern context these are Palestinian housing areas] with which they have reproached my people and have madearrogantthreats againsttheir borders...and a remnant of ...remnant of my people...”, an echo of the remnant survivors of the holocaust and indicative of the present partial restoration of Jews to Israel.

These two illustrations are but a sample of dozens of Scriptural references to the defeat of Israel’s troublesome latter day enemies.

The twin themes of Bible prophecy are the salvation and the reward of the eternal enjoyment in God’s Kingdom on Earth of the true Christian believers and of the surviving remnants of the nation of Israel. Of Israel Zephaniah concludes, “I will bring you back; even at that time I will gather you, for I will give you fame and praise among all the peoples of the earth [v.20]. That time is still some way off.

Greater Israel

This expanded destiny of Israel is the subject of many Bible prophecies, so many that it is an inescapable conclusion for any careful Bible reader. For example:

The subject matter of Ezekiel chapters 36 and 37 is the restoration of Israel, both spiritually and territorially, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you . . . you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers” 36:27-28.

“I will plant them in their land, and no longer shall they be pulled up from the land that I have given them” Amos 9:15.

Here is evidence that the restoration of Israel is 1) territorial 2) numerical 3) spiritual 4) permanent. As far as population is concerned, the constant flow of Jewish migrants into Israel will put pressure on available land to accommodate them, foreseen by Isaiah, “For your waste and desolate places, and the land of your destruction, will even now be too small for the inhabitants...The place is too small for me; give me a place where I may dwell” Isaiah 49:19-20.

Almost half of the world’s Jewry are now living in Israel but, after Gog’s invasion of Israel is defeated, all Jews will be back living in Israel and need an expanded land, “Then they shall know that I am the Lord their God, who sent themintocaptivityamongthe nations, but also brought them back to their land, and left none of them captive any longer” Ezekiel 39:28.

As well as enlarged borders and more than doubling of the present population, a vast attitude change will overtake the Israelis. At present Israelis shock the world, conducting ruthless war, bombing houses, killing women and children, walling off whole communities, imprisoning thousands, bulldozing buildings, rocketing cars. Sometimes there are good reasons for these actions and sometimes no alternatives but these extreme measures arise out of their self reliance and lack of trust because they will not leave their destiny in God’s hands. As a consequence they act rashly and behave irresponsibly. But this will change.

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you” Ezekiel 36:27 already quoted above

“Says the Lord, I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people” Jeremiah 31:33

“Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh” Ezekiel 11:19.

These statements will come to a climax when Jesus enters Jerusalem, God’s spirit envelopes the nation and they recognise Jesus as their Messiah [Zechariah 12:10].

To summarise, these are some of the major changes that will overtake the nation of Israel, 1) an expanded land, 2) an increased population, 3) a God-fearing spirit. Both 1) and 2) have been partially achieved while 3) is a future prospect.

Mere survival, pitted against Moslem intent to destroy them, is the name of the game at present. But the increased threats of rocket warfare against Israel from Gaza and south Lebanon is a precursor to the future necessity for Israel to permanently move into these areas. This development would be the next move in a series of steps to achieve the prophetic aims of a Greater Israel.

The Prophecy of Obadiah

Obadiah is the Bible prophet who provided more detail for Ezekiel’s rather bald statement, “You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers” 36:28. The extent of this land, divided among the twelve tribes of Israel, was described in Joshua chapters 12 to 19, stretching from Tyre in the north Mediterranean coast to the Sinai desert and east to the mountains beyond the Jordan River, embracing good cattle grazing country. The first chapter of Judges tells of the efforts of the Israelites to occupy this country but, from v.27, is a list of tribes that failed to take over all the promised land. “Manassah did not drive out the inhabitants of Beth Shean...nor did Ephraim...nor did Zebulun...nor did Asher...nor did Naphtali...”

Still less has modern Israel assumed the land promised to their fathers - far from it. The prophecies, already referred to, show that both the ancient and modern occupation shortcomings will be rectified. Obadiah presents more details. Referring to the Israelis south of Jerusalem [numbers added, see map over page],

“The South shall possess the mountains of Esau [1],

and the Lowland shall possess Philistia [2].

They shall possess the fields of Ephraim and the fields of Samaria [3].

Benjamin shall possess Gilead [4],

and the captives of this host of the children of Israel shall possess the land of the Canaanites as far as Zarephath [5]” vv.19-20.

In modern geography

[1] is the south part of the Kingdom of Jordan,

[2] is Gaza,

[3] is the West Bank,

[4] is north Jordan and

[5] is south Lebanon.

All these locations are populated by Palestinians, mostly in “refugee camps”. It is a prophecy against “Edom” and Esau”, leaving no doubt that the modern equivalent of Edom and Esau is the Palestinians.Here are the Palestinian population figures of 10 years ago. For Jordan (areas [1] and [4] above) 1,343,000; for [2] 716,000; for [3] 532,300; for [5] 352,700. There are no significant Palestinian populations elsewhere and Obadiah focuses on them all. Hence all the locations of the Palestinians [modern Edom/Esau] will form Greater Israel.

The Palestinian’s Bible destiny is even worse than that. “No survivor shall remain of the house of Esau, for the Lord has spoken” v.18. Whatever this actually means, it is clear that the Palestinians play no further part in Israel’s future expansion from that time.

Two further facts need to be noted. Obadiah is positive that the Israelis themselves achieve the banishment of the Pales-tinians in five areas and this will certainly be a long and painful future process for the Israelis. Nothing has been easy for them so far. Is the future any different?

Secondly, observers in Isaiah 63 see a divine figure coming from Edom having trodden and trampled “Edom” and “Bosrah” in his fury. This figure is very likely the returned Jesus Christ, before his arrival in Jerusalem, to proclaim the kingdom of God. It seems that the Israelis will not be able completely to eliminate the Palestinians, requiring Jesus to finish the job. “I looked but there was no one to help...my own arm brought sal-vationI have trodden down the peoples in my anger” v.5-6.

The recent Israeli incursions into Gaza and south Lebanon are like shadow boxing before the main event. The incorporation of these two areas into Greater Israel is clearly achievable because Israel’s armed forces have done most of it several times before. Is there any indication that Israel from now on will not be in the Holy Land permanently? None.

The noted Bible prophecy exponent John Thomas put forward the proposition that the Israelis would be expelled from the land before another restoration. This proposition was based on a mistranslation of Isaiah 16:4, “Let my outcasts dwell with you O Moab; be a shelter to them from the face of the spoiler.” On this mistranslation the idea was expounded that the Israelis would need shelter in Moab (east of the river Jordan) having been temporarily driven out of Israel.

John Thomas was a Hebrew and Greek scholar and was quick to noteandcorrectmanymistranslations of the AV, but he missed this one. Overwhelmingly, other versions reverse the intent of the verse - it is Moab that needs shelter from her enemies. “Let those who have been driven out of Moab stay with you; be their refuge from their destroyer” [Jerusalem Bible, similarly RSV, Septuagint, NIV et al - unfortunately the NKJ follows the AV]. The most authoritative translation comes from the Tanach, an expert English version by Jews whose mother tongue is Hebrew, “Let Moab's outcasts find asylum in you; be a shelter to them against the despoiler”. The refuge is the valley of the river Arnon [v.2] in eastern Israel. In common with the rest of the chapter, Isaiah 16 is lament for Moab whose remnants will find respite by fording the Arnon in eastern Israel.

The whole tenor of the chapter is clear. The chapter is titled something like “A Lament for Moab”. Scattered through it are phrases like “We have heard of the pride of Moab...therefore Moab shall wail for Moab; everyone shall wail for Moab” and “he will not prevail.” It is quite anachronistic to maintain that the Israelis should seek sanctuary in Moab

Edom, Moab and Ammon

There is a further general misconception about Moab. Daniel chapter 11 has, as its subject, the final confrontations of the kings of the north and south, the Seleucids who ruled Syria to the north of Israel and Egyptians to the south nearly three centuries before the birth of Jesus Christ. The prophet’s object is to give a potted moving picture of future events, in broad terms, right through to Israel’s restoration to the Holy Land in the 20th century. The chapter briefly refers to the revolt of the Maccabees [vv.32-33], the Romans, the Arabs and the Turks [to v.40].

In v. 41 the Turkish occupation of the Holy Land is noted in prospect, with the additional note that “these shall escape from his hand, Edom, Moab and...Ammon”, that is, the country east of the River Jordan known to us today as the Kingdom of Jordan. That was accurately reflected in the composition of the Turkish Empire when east of Jordan was regarded by them as unimportant, that is, that area escapedTurkish scrutiny. There were Turkish administrative centres in Damascus, Jaffa and Jerusalem, all west of the Jordan but nothing east of it. In reading the history of the repulse of the Turks from the Holy Land it can be noted that the British and Australian forces fought hard to dislodge the Turks from the coastal areas of the Holy Land in 1917 but little was needed east of Jordan in the old Edom, Moab and Ammom because few Turks were there. Those countries had escape”[d] the Turks. All this became particularly evident in the Middle Eastern records of WW1.

John Thomas died in 1871 and did not live to see the evidence of Turkish neglect east of Jordan. It was future to his time but it is history for us. Building on his misinterpretation of Isaiah 16, erroneously supposing that Israel would need to take refuge in Moab instead of the reverse, John Thomas postulated that, in the last days, confirmation that Israel would take refuge in Moab from the Gogian invasion can erroneously be drawn from assuming that Edom, Moab and Ammon would escape from the Gogian host. We can now see two things, 1) it was Moab that needed refuge in Isaiah 16 - not Israel, and 2) Edom, Moab and Ammon escaped from the Turks [not Gog] in the 19th and 20th century outcomes of the prophecy of Daniel 11.

The Turkish Empire, symbolised as the River Euphrates, has dried up. There is no empire left. The empire is gone. Only the bare core of Turkey itself remains, a dried up riverbed. As the remaining verses of Daniel 11 indicate, the Turkish Empire came to its end “and no one will help him.” In the peace settlement of 1922 Turkey lost all her conquests and Britain was given the mandate for the Holy Land. Turkey got nothing. Turkey, represented by the local geographical areas of ancient north Turkey such as Gomer and Togarmah will experience its final demise in the Gogian host in the future, still some time off.

Judgment and Restoration of Egypt

There is a further mistaken proposition by John Thomas resulting from this mistranslation. Isaiah 19 is a prophecy of future judgment of God on Egypt and ofher later restoration. restorationthe , and He will send them a Savior and a Mighty One, and He will deliver them.” John Thomas assumed that the Israelis have been driven into Egypt, based on the erroneous AV of Isaiah 16, and that it was those Israelis who would “cry to the Lord because of the oppressors”, presumably the Egyptians. However, verse 17 says, “The land of Judah shall be a terror to Egypt” and no where are the Israelis depicted as refugees in Egypt. The intent of verse 20 is that it is the Egyptians who “cry to the Lord because of the oppressors and He will send them a Savior and a Mighty One, and He will deliver them.”

Verse 20 reads, “It will be for a sign and for a witness to the Lord of hosts in the land of Egypt; for they will cry to the Lord because of the oppressors, and He will send them a Saviour and a Mighty One, and He will deliver them.” John Thomas assumed that the Israelis would have been driven into Egypt, based on the erroneous AV of Isaiah 16, and that it was those Israelis who would “cry to the Lord because of the oppressors”, oppressors presumably being the Egyptians. However, verse 17 says, “The land of Judah shall be a terror to Egypt” and no where are the Israelis depicted as refugees in Egypt. The intent of verse 20 is that it is the Egyptians who “cry to the Lord because of the oppressors and He will send them a Saviour and a Mighty One, and He will deliver them.”

The question then becomes, “Who is the oppressor of the Egyptians?” There are few clues, one being v.22, “The Lord will strike Egypt; hewill strike Egypt; he will strike and heal it”. How will God strike Egypt? One possibility is that it is the Muslim Brotherhood who, at present, are waging a low key campaign against the Egyptian government by attacks on tourists. They are quietly awaiting their opportunity to take over Egypt, like the Hamas in Gaza and, if they did, create the samesort of chaos as at present afflicts Gaza. We may expect dramatic developments in Egypt. They facilitate arms supplies into Gaza for the Palestinians across the south Gaza/Egyptian border. In the future, an angry God may hugely escalate the Muslim Brotherhood campaign and Egypt, belatedly recognising the returned Jesus, may well cry for salvation and succeed in obtaining it.

In any event, these enormous future upheavals in Egypt eventually result in Egypt being part of the kingdom of God. “In that day Israel will be one of three with Egypt and Assyria [Syria/Iraq] - a blessing in the midst of the land whom the Lord of Hosts shall bless, saying, ‘Blessed is Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my inheritance’”. This blessed destiny will come after Egypt experiences future traumatic and dramatic events. Can your mind cope with these huge changes thatarecoming? Thatdepends on an accurate understanding of Isaiah chapters 16 and 19.

How Soon? Sequences and Time Intervals

The absolutely vital fact to keep in the forefront is that the timing of the return of Jesus Christ is not connected to any of these considerations. Jesus may return in the next 24 hours and begin his kingdom preparation work while all these other activities, confrontations, and wars continue to build to a climax for years. There is absolutely no guarantee that at the moment, day, or year Jesus returns, all anti-Israel and anti-kingdom activity ceases - in fact, it will be the very opposite. John Thomas was aware of this reality. He wrote that there is “an intervaloftime”betweenthe appearance of Jesus and the activities he will be engaged in by the time of his arrival at Jerusalem. He further stated that he did not know how long this time period would be. We concur. The question then becomes, Will it be a short or a relatively long time?

Return of Jesus Soon – Other Events May Take Longer

It is necessary to grasp the idea that God wants us to expect the second advent of Jesus at any moment, to be watching and instantly ready for his appearance. But that keen anticipation of the return of Jesus, with the call to meet him and the immediate activities such as the resurrection, is quite separated in timing from the rescue of Israel and the proclamation of the kingdom from Jerusalem. We are urged to regard the reappearance of Jesus as imminent but the resolution of Israel’s troubles may be much longer in their timing.

In the minds of believers there is a natural desire that events leading to the kingdom will unfold in quick time. But we are going to put a suggestion that we have taken a long time to formulate and one that may be entirely new and unfamiliar to many readers. For that reason many will discount it and some may be dismayed by it. But there is enough evidence to suggest that there are difficulties to be overcome before Jesus reaches Jerusalem that may involve a considerable period. The interval, between the time when “the trumpetshall sound” and the arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem, may be years, or even decades. Many may baulk at this suggestion, saying that events will move quickly but we contend that this may be wishful thinking.

Why would we consider that the resolution of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict appears as if it will occupy a substantial number of years ahead, before Jesus intervenes? Recent history and mature reflection on Obadiah strongly indicates that possibility.

Israel has been established as a state for a lot more than fifty years. Since the dramatic Six Day War of 1967 that restored all of Jerusalem to Israel, no further territorial gains have been added to her sovereign state. The West Bank is only an administered territory. Since then, in more than forty years, not a single piece of land listed in Obadiah has yet been “possessed” by Israel. Twice Israel has been in south Lebanon and then retreated; numerous times into Gaza but not permanently. How much longer will it take for any one of Obadiah’s five possessions to be achieved, let alone all of them? Possession overnight is almost inconceivable. How long then?

The Kingdom of Jordan is the big question mark. One can easily imagine that Israeli sovereign possession of south Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank could be accomplished in a few short years. [The recent south Lebanon war exhausted both Israel and Hizb’Allah and such repeat excursions are not contemplated for now, 2007.] But the Kingdom of Jordan is another story. Israel has had good relations with Jordan’s rulers for thirty years. An Israeli possession of north and south Jordan, as envisaged by Obadiah, is unthinkable without enormous changes in their relationship. How long would such a huge change require? Judging by the glacial speed of developments so far, and the numerous false starts and retreats of the past, we would say decades. For example, Israel’s two aborted invasions of south Lebanon were 24 years apart [1982 and 2006] and she has still made no progress into Lebanon, as Obadiah foretold it.

The excitement and anticipation of a rapid transition to the kingdom age following events of 1948 and 1967 was understandable but it didn’t happen. We are now in a far better position to assess all the factors and circumstancesthat impinge on the progress of kingdom events. Yes, it might all happen in very quick time but the odds against a rapid achievement are enormous.

The Only Important Milestone Ahead

Our assessment is that, politically and militarily, the Holy Land still has a long way to go but no such appraisal will prevent the reappearance of Jesus immediately and that is the most important thing.

Consider the following:

*Our hope is the quick return of Jesus and the solution of the Israeli/Palestinian confrontation is a secondary priority.

*Immediately after the reappearance of Jesus, the resurrection and the call of believers to meet Jesus will occur. For those people, any concern for Middle East affairs will be of no consequence. The best commander in the world will now be in charge and he will deal with it in his good time. If it needs another twenty years to deliver the result God wants there, it will not be any concern of ours.

*At his reappearance, Jesus will be seen by everyone but recognised and respected only by a few. This will bring new problems that will have to be dealt with.

*Jesus will have to deal with many Arab tribal groups before he reaches Jerusalem.

*John Thomas strongly suggests that God’s smiting and healing of Isaiah 19, the dispatch of “a Saviour” into Egypt and the eventual establishment of the true worship of God in Egypt resulting in Egypt’s third share in the kingdom nucleus [note that Egypt is not part of the Gogian invasion force] occurs before Jesus enters Jerusalem.

*The final redemption of Israel from her enemies [Isaiah 63] occurs with her saviour moving from Bozrah in the direction of Jerusalem, which is consistent with movement from the direction of Egypt.

All these events may be real enough but the sequence is speculative. They are described here as illustration of activities that may well occupy two decades before Jesus rescues Israel andarrives in Jerusalem. Theconversion ofEgypt will be a huge huge job. Of course God could achieve it overnight but he hasn’t settled Israel’s restoration in 58+ years, which he also could have done overnight. We never give God enough time. We need to learn from the timelines of recent history and apply these lessons to our appreciation of future events.

A further consideration lies in the possibility of the reappearance of Jesus being a number of years ahead. “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” Mark 13:32. God knows the details of all events and he may have arranged for Israel to struggle for ten, twenty, fifty years ahead. If that be the case, and if in that struggle she has finally achieved Obadiah’s goals, then there will be little need for a long time gap and the sequence of events will probably be quite different. The conceptural difficulty arises only if we conceive of the arrival of Jesus now [as we should] and the amount of difficult progress that Obadiah sees Israel make on her own before the intervention of Jesus.

Two Major Arab Lines of Descent - A Critical Difference

Most readers will be familiar with the line of Arabs that are descended from Ishmael and Esau, the generations who had Abraham for their patriarch.

However, in conversation with some English speaking local Arab fishermen on the wharf at Bahrain, the writer learned that Bahraini Arabs despise the Palestinians. “Second class Arabs, they are”, said my friends on the wharf. “We are superior Arabs.” When I inquired why they thought this was so, they told me that they were descended from Joktan while the Palestinians were Ishmaelis [Esau being included]. The Joktanis were a much superior race of people and they were quite scathing of the Ishmaeli and Esau Arabs.

Genesis chapter 10 is the table of nations that came from Noah’s three sons and indicates the Middle East areas in which the various tribes and nations settled. Verse 21 names the sons of Shem and succeeding generations. Eber’s sons, Peleg “for in his days the earth was divided” [v.25], and his brother Joktan, were the 5th generation from Noah. It is interesting that Peleg’s posterity is not named but Joktan’s thirteen sons are all named, as if this was very important information. And it is, especially for us in the 21st. century.

The thirteen sons were Almodad, Sheleph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah, Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah, Obal, Abimael, Sheba, Ophir, Havilah, and Jobab. “Their dwelling place was from Mesha as you go towards Sephar, the mountain of the east.” These thirteen tribal locations appear to range from northeast Arabia adjacent to the head of the Persian Gulf, down the Arabian coastline of the Persian Gulf, along theArabian south coast and round the western corner a little way up into the Red Sea. As we know it today this includes [from top to bottom and round to the Red Sea] south Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Yemen. Every one of these modern sons of Joktan is doing well economically; some are fabulously wealthy. Even my fishermen informants were making a comfortable living. What astounded me was that they were no dummies. They knew their ancient heritage. How they must have laughed when Yasser Arafat made a fool of himself in claiming that Israel had no heritage in the Holy Land. The Joktanis, with their six generations of precedence over Ishmael, know better.

By comparison the twelve sons of Ishmael took up their tribal lands close to what became the borders of Israel. They were six generations later than the Joktanis. They were animal herders and today are nearly as poor as they have ever been. It is not hard to recognise the contempt the Joktanis have for the Ishmaelies. These geographical and genetic factors are as critical as they have ever been. While the Islamic objection to Israel’s presence in the Holy Land is critical to the Ishmaelis, it is of far less consequence to the comfortably off Joktanis. Their interest is low key and more academic, than that of the desperately poor and radical Ishmaeli Palestinians.

But the consequences of the divergent lines of Arab history have a far more crucial and spiritual consequence. If we look into the prophetic references and note the Arab tribes and nations that, one way or another, eventually accept the rule of Jesus in the kingdom, a variety of Arabs from a diverse heritage respond to the kingdom but hardly any Ishmaeli Arabs do so. Seba and Sheba bring presents [Psalm 72]. Descendants of Ham, such as Egyptians and Assyrians [Syrians and northern Iraqis] are incorporated [Isaiah 19] after suffering divine discipline and education.

Why is it that the Ishmaelis are not included? Mainly because their family structure has been destroyed. The Midianites disappeared from history, as did many of the tribes of the other sons. Genesis 25:13 lists all the sons’ names and v.18 nominates their ancestral lands as from Havilah to Shur. That is the Arabian stretch of Red Sea coast all the way north almost to the Mediterranean. It is mainly a desolate landscape, the port of Aden being the only notable feature. The Ishmaeli peoples of Edom, Moab and Ammon lived east of the River Jordan and only Edom had any longevity. Any survivors became a truly mixed multitude and any modern names, by which we may employ the applicability of prophetic statements, seem to be reduced to Jordanians, Bedouins and Palestinians. There is an almost total lack of ancient identity in contrast to the Joktani Arabs of the Persian Gulf.

Herein seems to lie a main reason why Israel’s immediate neighbours have little connection to Christ’s kingdom. They are desperate for a sustainable homeland now and they are striving for possession of the land that Israel has occupied. They have been brainwashed by their leaders to an enduring hatred of Israel. The propaganda of people like Yasser Arafat has fixed in their minds the animosity of thousands of years of close conflict with Israel. The minds of people such as the Palestinians have been poisoned to such an extent that God has decreed ,“The house of Jacob shall be a fire and the house of Joseph a flame but the house of Esau shall be stubble: they shall kindle them and devour them and no survivor shall remain of the house of Esau” Obadiah 18. For them there is no kingdom hope. There is a great gulf fixed between the Joktanis and the Ishmaelis. In any case, God judgment is paramount, “Jacob have I loved but Esau have I hated” Romans 9:13.

This is the great drama that is being played out in the Holy Land today. Under normal worldly circumstances, if all the Arab tribes co-operated together, Israel would not last a month. The poor old second class Palestinians battle on with little help from their historical brothers. Their main support comes from fanatical religious compatriots with no family connections, such as Iran who are of Persian background. That also is of no long term consequence. God has decreed that Israel will survive into the kingdom to play a key role. “Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘In those days ten men from every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man, saying, Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’” Zechariah 8:23. The Jews will demonstrate the kingdom to curious world citizens.

Conclusion

The current battle for the Holy Land, in early 2007, is in remission. The Israeli thrust into Lebanon was mismanaged and never stood a chance of being the permanent feature that Obadiah foretold. Israel will do better sometime in the future, and then God will be able to progress Obadiah’s prophecy.

Gaza remains the hotspot for now, a “grieving thorn and a painful [“pricking” AV] brier” Ezekiel 28:24, becoming more serious as time goes by. The Gazan rocket technology is improving dangerously by updated methods, and by supplies smuggled across/under the Egypt/Sinai border. Iran is rearming Hizb’Allah in Lebanon. Israel, eventually, will have to cut off all this activity, again by moving permanently to “possess” these pieces of Obadiah’s prophetical pronouncements.

Perhaps the current battles of 2007/8 will bring us to the next steps in the long program of the formation of Greater Israel.

 

 

Armageddon – Which Battle of The Six Last Day and Kingdom Battles?

Graham Bacon

The prophetic writings in the Bible are as fundamentally important as any other message in Scripture. As examples of fundamental prophecy, consider the resurrection, the return of Jesus, his Kingdom rule, the judgment of the world – all prophetic and vital to understanding God’s purpose. The restoration of the Jews to the Holy Land, as a dramatic fulfilment of Bible prophecy, is a huge contribution to demonstrate the veracity and dependability of the Bible. It was God’s outstanding sign to the generations of the twentieth century. In twenty years time, the fulfilment of any one of hundreds of prophetic explanations may resonate with listeners who may well respond with “Those Bible teachers were right” and make a move to salvation. Therefore it is imperative that prophecy expositors be as accurate as possible in interpreting the outcome of prophetic events. One of those prophetic events is the enigmatic Armageddon.

A difficulty with the common phrase “the battle of Armageddon” is that it does not occur in that form in the Bible. The reference to the term Armageddon occurs in Revelation 16:16 in the context of a last day gathering of nations in conflict against God’s elect. The word battle occurs in “the battle of that great day of God Almighty”. For this purpose, “the kings of the earth” will be gathered to “the place called, in Hebrew, Armageddon”. Since it is possible to identify at least six last day and kingdom battles, the challenge is to identify which of the six constitutes “the battle of Armageddon”, if that precise concept is valid.

In the concluding section we will examine the Revelation context more closely. We also note that the word is widely used to denote sudden catastrophe outside of a Biblical context in, for example, popular entertainment.This usage has influenced the general conception – that of one enormous cataclysmic battle. The truth may not be so simple.

Three of the Traditional Armageddon Battles

In Revelation 16:16, no indication is given concerning which, if any [or all], of the several last day battles is intended to be classed as the Armageddon conflict. Of the many candidates for the classification of Armageddon battles, three are widely recognised as major Biblical last day confrontations:

Israel v. her Arab neighbours,

an attempted Gogian invasion of Israel, and

the Revelation beast power v. Christ.

One attempted solution is to combine these battle descriptions into one ongoing battle. In this concocted scenario the major enemies of Israel and Christ’s Kingdom – the Arabs, the Gogian confederacy, and the European powers – are all mixed up into one rolling battle.

With variations, the concept goes something like this. All in one campaign, the army of Jesus Christ moves out of the Sinai desert towards Jerusalem, eliminating the challenge of the Arabs on the way. In the meantime, a combination of the Gogian coalition with European forces will have occupied Jerusalem. The occupying force is destroyed by self destruction and God-directed natural forces and Jesus takes up his rule from Jerusalem.

In a Biblical context this combination of these three conflicts into one battle is a flawed solution because each of these three battles has

a different context,

a different purpose,

a different location,

a different enemy and

a different ending.

These five differing characteristics decree that any one of the three conflicts cannot be rolled into any of the other two. Each has to stand alone. Any single one of a differing context, or purpose, or enemy, or ending, would be enough to arouse doubt that the three conflicts were one big battle. But when it can be demonstrated that all five differing criteria exist, it is impossible in the extreme to maintain that the Arabs, the Gogian host and the European beast, or any two, combine in the one long conflict.Furthermore, it is necessary that a time interval exists after the defeat of the Palestinians for the walls and barriers to be removed and a period of prosperity be enjoyed.

THE DIFFERENCES EXPLAINED

1) Israel v. Her Arab Neighbours

This conflict is in progress now and has been since the declaration of the State of Israel in 1948. Its rock bottom basis is the refusal of the radical Islamic nations to accept any existence of national Israel in the Holy Land, despite God’s repeatedly stated intention to restore Israel to its ancient lands. Of the dozens of Bible references, Ezekiel 35 and Obadiah are two of the most positive and decisive judgments against Israel’s Arab neighbours.

In a latter day reference to Palestinian leadership’s propaganda against Israel, Ezekiel 35 states that God has “heard all your blasphemies which you have spoken against the mountains of Israel, saying, ‘They are desolate; they are given to us to consume’” v.10, a reference to current threats to eliminate Israel and Yasser Arafat’s blasphemous statement that Israel had no heritage in the Holy Land.

Obadiah concludes with Israel’s recovery of five listed geographical locations [Gaza, the West Bank, north and south Jordan, and south Lebanon], which are [now] predominantly or substantially Palestinian domiciles. Of these Palestinians, Obadiah says “no survivor shall remain of the house of Esau” while “the house of Jacob shall be a fire and the house of Joseph a flame but the house of Esau shall be stubble” v.18.

Clearly the enabling force is the Israelis, in their present conditions. But Isaiah 63 introduces another factor. Observers note a figure, “mighty to save”, coming from Edom. “I have trodden down the peoples in my anger” v.6. It seems that a combination of Israeli effort and of divine intervention will be required to completely dispose of Israel’s Arab neighbours.

The unique features of this confrontation, not common to any other, are:

The context - Arab disputation of Israel’s sovereignty in the Holy Land.

The purpose - to establish Israel, by much adversity, in its ancient lands.

The enemy - Edom/Esau represented today by the Palestinians.

The ending - a Greater Israel and a hard won victory by Israeli forces, finished off by

The divine trampling underfoot of those who challenge Israel.

The location – five areas in the Holy Land.

 

The timing of this Palestinian/Israeli series of confrontations began around sixty years ago and will continue well into the future. There is nothing else like it in the annals of prophecy. It is current, highly visible, exhaustively prolonged. It is a specific, stand alone, unique project, directed by God to clear the Holy Land of Arabs and to establish the Jewish nation in the promised land as an essential prelude to the formation of the Kingdom of God on Earth.

 

2) The attempted Gogian invasion of Israel

Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39 detail an attempt to invade an unwalled, unprotected, peaceful Israel by a coalition of forces led by “Gog of the land of Magog” – Magog being in south Russia. They congregate on the far northern mountains of Israel but will be destroyed before they can achieve anything. In the entire two chapters, not an Israeli life is lost nor is a single Israeli building destroyed. No other prophetic writings are directly linked to this event and any other suggested linkage is speculative at best. These two Ezekiel chapters, detailing the Gogian invasion event, are the only positive sources of information and they have to stand on their own.

This ill-fated challenge on Israel can be positively sequenced as occurring after the return of Jesus Christ. Since the Palestinians have a “perpetual hatred” [Ezekiel 35:5 AV] of Israel and “shed the blood of the children of Israel”, the present walls, barbed wire, rocket defences, tanks, military aircraft and armaments will not be removed until after a returned Jesus Christ finally defeats the Arabs as Isaiah 63 illustrates. The highly respected prophecy interpreter, John Thomas, recognised this situation. He wrote that the returned Jesus will be regarded as the “Arabian Antichrist” moving on Jerusalem. “By this time, probably, Russia will have made a movement against Constantinople” [Eureka vol.3 p.602, 1921 ed]. The concept of John Thomas was that, with Jesus moving towards Jerusalem, and defeating the Arabs on the way, the Gogian army would still be in northwest Turkey, well outside Israel.

The Gogian forces will be annihilated by self destruction and by God-directed forces of nature. “Every man’s sword against his brother…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” 38:21-22. Yes, the Israelis are there but, this time, they do not fight; they are there only clean up the mess and bury the dead. “Then those who dwell in the cities of Israel will go out and set on fire and burn the weapons…for seven months the house of Israel will be burying them” 39:9 & 12.

The location of this calamity that befalls the Gogian host is described thus: “I will give Gog a burial place there in Israel, the valley of those who pass by east of the sea; and it will obstruct travelers, because there they will bury Gog and all his multitude” v.11. The place is flat land in a valley in mountainous country [these are details gleaned from the two chapters], located east of the Sea of Galilee [see “valley” in Young’s Concordance], near the Amman-Damascus highway, close enough to “obstruct travelers” on the highway. Today’s curious tourist would be able to identify a likely spot around 90 km or 55 miles south of Damascus, close to left or right of the highway to Amman. Gog goes nowhere and does nothing. By the time of the Gogian challenge, these mountains will have become “the mountains of Israel” [38:8], part of Greater Israel in the earlier expansion detailed in Obadiah.

There is no other remotely similar situation in prophecy:

The context - Israel has no need of defences, walls, barbed wire, road blocks [38:11]. The challenge of the Palestinians, or any other enemies, has been completely eliminated.

The purpose - the battle will simply be one of plunder of the riches of Israel and, by its outcome, will destroy those arrayed against Israel and the Kingdom.

The enemy - Russia and her eastern Islamic allies, today, already, clients of Russia.

The ending - confused self destruction, accompanied by divinely directed deadly forces of nature.

The location – east of Galilee, 90 km south of Damascus.

The Gogian challenge is no actual threat to Israel. God has it all under control. Israel will still be living in peace and with no need for defences.

The destruction of Gog is an awesome, stand alone event.

AN IMPORTANT ASIDE

Israel “dwelling safely”

Irrespective of the implications of the Hebrew word “betach”, the essential circumstances of Israel’s condition at the time of Gog’s unsuccessful attempted invasion is lack of need for defences. There are none. When is that possible?

Israel’s Middle East enemies have a “perpetual hatred” of her [Ez.35:5] - no peace deals - and it is the returned Jesus who finally disposes of them [Is.63:1-6]. The dwelling safely only comes after his return and rescue. The context of Israel dwelling safely is fixed in the kingdom age in these passages: Jer.23:6; 32:27; 33:16; Ez.28:25/6; 34:25/7/8; Hos.2:18; Ze.14:11. No alternative view can assemble such evidence.

There are no parallel passages to Ezekiel chs.38/9.

Joel 3 addresses Tyre, Sidon and “all the coasts of Philistia” [Gaza]. It is quite irresponsible to include Gog.

Zechariah 12 to 14 involves three separate time periods 1) 12:1-13:6, covering four desert wars, recognition of Jesus, some cleansing of the nation; 2) 13:7-9, foretelling the Holocaust; 3) Zech. 14, including the capture of Jerusalem and its division in 1948-67, the Lord fighting for Israel, the establishment of the kingdom. There is no reference to Gog.

Daniel 11:40-45 foretells of the rise and fall of Turkey when, in 1917, none came to help her, a continuous Daniel 11 story. Again, any relationship to Gog is remote to non-existent. There is no positive identification for any assertion.

A fountain for sin and uncleanness is set up [Zech.13:1] after Israel’s recognition of Jesus. Receiving of the spirit, as they will have [12:10], is no guarantee of purity. Non-spirit receiving Jews will be arriving from overseas as well. Contrary to some claims, there will still be post-advent Israeli sin and shame right up to the appearing of Gog, despite Jesus established in Jerusalem. The existence of such blemishes cannot be utilised to place Gog’s arrival before the return of Jesus.

“They shall know that I am the Lord”is no guarantee of acceptance of the Lord. Ezekiel 7:9,25, “My eye will not spare you nor will I have pity...your abominations will be in your midst and you shall know that I am the Lord who strikes...destruction comes: they will seek peace but there shall be none.” They were to know God by coming disasters. It is similar to saying “You’ll know all about it tomorrow”. This phrase proves nothing about timing of Ezekiel 38 and 39

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3) The Revelation Beast Power v. Christ

Revelation chapters 17 to 20 give an account of the rise, fall and destruction of the symbolic woman and beast power that challenges the reign of Jesus Christ from Jerusalem. An evil woman sits astride a beast that has its beginnings in Daniel chapters 2, 7 and 8 as a fierce and violent iron monster that endures from the end of the Greek Empire to beyond the future return of Jesus Christ, a period well in excess of two thousand years. In Daniel’s prophecy the figure was chiefly representative of the ancient Roman Empire. Over more than two thousand years the constancy of the figurative iron leads to the necessity of consistent identification of Rome as history and prophecy progress through more than twenty centuries. The successive, medieval Holy Roman Empire and, later still, the Roman Catholic Church, meet this symbolic, continuing, iron requirement. The geographical base is Europe – in particular, the city of “seven heads are seven mountains” [or hills, 17:9], a symbolic way of describing Rome, a city built on seven hills.

The latter day rise of this Roman/European entity is based on the trade of chapter 18 – a remarkable 23 items are listed that will make this “beast” enormously rich. This is almost certainly the destiny of an ever expanding Europe. The symbol of the woman in Revelation 17 represents a religious church entity, [“drunk with the blood of the saints” v.6, a reference to the violent medieval history of the church]. The symbolism emerges in real terms as a future rich and expanding Europe that will have an evil religious influence sitting on top of it.

The logic is quite plain as the Revelation story unfolds. “Ten kings” [leading heads of European governments] “are of one mind and give their power and authority to the beast. These will make war with the Lamb [Jesus ruling from Jerusalem], and the Lamb will overcome them” vv.12-14. The European government heads will be furious at this defeat. They “will hate the harlot, make her desolate and naked, eat her flesh and burn her with fire” v.16, because by her “sorcery all the nations were deceived” [into misidentifying Jesus as antichrist] 18:23. “The woman whom you saw is that great city which reigns over the kings of the earth” [17:18], the city already described as being on seven hills, pointing directly at Rome. The future Europe will not only become a powerful collection of states but will become extraordinarily wealthy by trade, a process begun by the Common Market through the Treaty of Rome in 1957.

The powerful and wealthy career of Europe will extend into the Kingdom Age and will be brought to a crashing end by making war with Jesus Christ. How will a deceiving religious influence persuade Europe to fight Jesus Christ? Other parts of the New Testament [1 John 2::18-19; 4:2-3 and 2 John v.7] indicate that the churches, led by Rome, will be deceived into regarding the real Jesus Christ, ruling from Jerusalem, as being a one-person Antichrist, while the Bible shows that Antichrist is many people living from the first century onwards. The future Antichrist, so the current popular church theory goes, is one man ruling from Jerusalem. It is a deception that causes the centre piece of Europe, and the focus of world trade, to be set on fire by her own furious rulers. The features are:

The context - a wealthy, exclusive Europe, influenced by a deceptive religious force

The purpose – to deceive the ruling governments into supporting a war against Jesus Christ’s Kingdom. The leaders are infuriated by being tricked into a war they cannot win.

The enemy - the religious influence based in Rome and all who contribute to the trading empire.

The ending - the European leaders burn everything associated with the fraudulent influence and the rival challenge to Christ’s Kingdom is destroyed.

The location – Europe and particularly Rome.

The subject matter of this Revelation prophecy is so different from the others that it is not feasible to roll it into the circumstances of any of the other prophecies. Each of the three major Armageddon candidate battles - the Arabs, Gog and the Beast - have vastly different contexts, purposes, separate enemies, endings, locations unique to themselves, making it impossible for them to be part of the same battle.

SUMMARY SO FAR

The First Battle is an attempt by militant Arab factions to deny Israel any living space in the Holy Land. [The two-state concept is never going to be an option.] This Arab objective is in direct opposition to God’s oft stated intention to return Israel to its ancient lands. The rebirth of Israel is a preliminary necessity for the geographical location of the Kingdom, centred in Jerusalem. The unremitting persistence of the Palestinians in fighting Israel results in their complete destruction and Israel’s eventual possession of the five territories listed in Obadiah. The conclusion is marked by the removal of Islamists from the Holy Land, this removal finally being completed by the returned Jesus Christ.

The Second Context is the attempted invasion by the Gogian alliance of a peaceful and wealthy Israel. The object is pure plunder. These opening conditions require the absence of any Palstinian threats against Israel – absence of any danger at all and a period of time for peace, safety and prosperity to have developed. Since the neighbouring Arab threat to Israel will be finalised by a returned Jesus Christ, it is sensible to propose that Jesus will be established in Jerusalem and Kingdom construction will have commenced. This will provide the peace, safety and prosperity conditions listed in Ezekiel 38. Here we have a small suggested sequence of events in the first and second battles. They cannot be simultaneously occurring – it is impossible to have Islamic “perpetual [or everlasting] hatred” [Ezekiel 35:5] of Israel with peace, safety and prosperity at the same time. There is no hint of an Islamic/Israeli peace – in fact just the opposite – “there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau” Obadiah 18.

So Israel continues in peace, safety and prosperity after the Gogian host self destructs. The Gogian victims are buried by the Israelis, after they have been finished off by natural calamities. This occurs on the outer mountains of Israel without Gog moving anywhere or achieving anything.

The Third Confrontation takes place in Europe, a completely different venue. It will be a complex interplay between commercial and political interests on the one hand and Roman religious influences on the other. Revelation 18 focuses particularly on the religious influences in the city of Rome that catastrophically persuade the European rulers to support a war against Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God. A false church argument that Jesus is Antichrist would do the trick. The European ruler/church partnership will be soundly beaten and the rulers will turn on deceitful Rome and all she stands for, Europe wide, and will reduce it all to ashes. It is a dramatically different story with its own stand alone features.

Some Notable Features

Israel fights in the first battle, will merely bury the dead in the second, and have no recorded part to play at all in the third.

The first two confrontations occur in the Holy Land but the third location is in Europe.

Israel’s Arab enemies surround her. Gog comes from the north and her partners are Middle Eastern. Rome is almost due west of Israel. The Kingdom enemies come from three different directions.

Israel and Jesus deal with the Arabs. Self destruction and natural forces deal with Gog. European rulers burn all things Roman. There are three different destructive agencies.

MORE KINGDOM CONFLICTS

To this point we have only discussed, for Armageddon consideration, the three most widely proposed battles. To complete the Armageddon picture we need to consider other last day and kingdom battles.

The Assyrian Invasion of Israel

Micah chapter 5 introduces an invader of Israel styled the latter day Assyrian.This incursion, part way into Israel, is almost universally, but erroneously, regarded as an additional account of the Gogian advance on Israel of Ezekiel 39-39. This correspondence is mainly based on wrongly identifying the latter day Assyrian as Gog or Russia or the king of the north.

Thereisa fundamental reason why this identification is totally impossible. It is very simple.

The Gogian army is defeated [Ezekiel 39:4], its homeland is divinely torched [v.6] and, accounting for all references, in a later attack on “the camp of the saints”, Gog and Magog are devoured by God-directed fire from heaven [Revelation 20:9]. There is not a single redeeming feature about Gog – only a persistent rebellion against God’s designs.

On the Other Hand

The latter day Assyrian invades Israel, thus arousing the wrath of the Kingdom ruler Jesus Christ. He sends against the Assyrian “seven shepherds and eight princely men [warriors] and they shall waste with the sword the land of Assyria.” [Micah 5:5-6]. The seven shepherds apparently succeed with their teaching and caring work among the teachable inhabitants of Assyria. In Isaiah 19 “Israel will be one of three with Egypt and Assyria – a blessing in the midst of the land; whom the Lord of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed is Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my inheritance” vv. 24-25. This means that:

Who, then, Is the Latter Day Assyrian with a Kingdom Destiny?

One of the fundamental rules of Bible prophecy interpretation is generally that geographic locations remain fixed on where the prophetic scribe, in his time, understood that place to be found. In this case both Micah and Isaiah would understand that Assyria lay in an arc to the east and north of Israel. Assyria’s capital was Nineveh. The ruins of Nineveh lie about 25 km northeast of Kirkuk in north Iraq. What we know as north Iraq and, later, Syria, was known as Assyria to the prophet Isaiah and it is these two countries today that constitute the latter day Assyrian. In all likelihood, it is these two countries that will form the Micah 5 invasion of Israel, quite separate from the three conflicts we have already considered.

Three Armageddon candidate battles have become four.

Victory of the King on the White Horse

The second half of Revelation chapter 19 is devoted to the campaign of the “King of Kings and Lord of Lords” riding on a white horse to cleanse the earth of evil. “Out of his mouth goes a sharp sword that with it he should strike the nations” v.15. Following him, also on white horses, are “the armies in heaven clothed in fine linen, white and clean” v.14. In this symbolic vision John saw “the beast, the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against him who sat on the horse and against his army” v.19. It is now the turn of the beast and the false prophet to be captured and thrown into the lake of fire and “the rest” were slain by the sword in his mouth.

This activity appears to be a sequel, but separate from, the action of Revelation 17 and 18 where Rome, with its deceiving influence, is torched by the leading ten kings of Europe. But Revelation 19 discloses that the entire political “beast” of Europe [consisting of 27 nations in 2007] will continue to oppose Jesus and his army. Consequently the entire political structure of Europe will be destroyed, together with “the rest”.

The third of our original three battles, Revelation 17 and 18, was confined to the burning of the Roman religious deceiving influence over the leading kings of Europe. Now Revelation 19 moves on to the next phase – the righteous judgment of Jesus and the saints on the persistent opposition of the complete continent of Europe against the Kingdom of God.

Four candidate Armageddon battles have become five.

A Rebellion at the End of the Thousand Years

Revelation chapter 20 is straight forward. The faithful “lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. . .Now when the thousand years have expired. . .” the nations gathered them[selves] together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea. They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them” vv.7-9. This seems to be a rebellion at the end of the millennium.

This is a simple uncomplicated story of an uprising against the rule of Jesus, illustrating that perverse human nature never learns basic moral lessons. It is a retelling on a grand scale of the betrayal of Judas who waited until the very end of Jesus’ ministry to do his dirty deed. Jesus knew all along what he would do, just as he will know of the rebellion of the nations but, in each case, the uprising is left alone until it reveals itself and is self condemned.

It is very likely that Psalm 2 adds some detail to Revelation 20. “The kings of the earth set themselves and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands in pieces and cast away their cords from us” vv.2-3. As they see it, they are bound by bands and cords, for example, to go up to Jerusalem “from year to year to worship the king, the Lord of hosts and to keep the feast of Tabernacles” Zechariah 14:16. They are sick and tired of this routine and they “break their bands in pieces and cast away their cords” in rebellion. It is the end of them.

This confrontation at the end of the thousand years appears to be the last battle. The thousand years will be ended and all kingdom enemies will have been removed. At the end of his millennial reign, Jesus will hand his now perfected kingdom to God and perpetual peace will prevail.

By the above count, the candidate Armageddon battles amount to six.

Armageddon – What Is It?

The reference to Armageddon [Revelation 16:16] has connection to the context in vv.12-15 where, in the pouring out of the sixth bowl [v.12], the Turkish Empire evaporates v.12 [as it has done], preparing “the way of the kings of the east” [plural kings – ArableadersantagonistictoIsrael[v.15] to surround Israel [which they have done], unveiling the “spirits of demons” [v.14] in the United Nations and world forums to demonise Israel [happening now], and “to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty” [v.14]. Verse 15 is an exhortation to watch for the coming of Jesus amid these signs of his approaching arrival. The idea of gathering “the kings of the earth” together in “that great day” of v.14 is repeated with reference to Armageddon in v.16, interspersed with the watching for the coming of Jesus in v.15.

Armageddon is closely associated with the return of Jesus Christ and those events immediately surrounding it.

We have noted that Jesus will finish off “the house of Esau” in the first battle, the implication being that Jesus will return during the present contest in the Holy Land, with the possibility that the present contest will still have decades to run. If those verses 12 to 16 are the prelude that leads to the return of Jesus and Armageddon, then Armageddon began in 1948 with “the kings of the east” moving in to surround the infant Israel. In that concept we are in Armageddon and it will continue into our future.

In Hebrew, the word Armageddon is a combination of three words meaning “heap”, “valley” and “judgment”. The combination of these concepts has been admirably constructed to indicate “the heaping together of the nations for judgment in the valley”. Valleys feature in Joel, “Let the nations be wakened and come up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat, for there I will sit to judge all the surrounding nations” [3:12] and “Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision”. This is precisely the scenario suggested by the component words of Armageddon and Joel specifically mentions Lebanon and Gaza [v.4] as sources of conflict which describes the situation today.

 

Armageddon seems to be focussed on the Land of Israel and her surrounding enemies.

 

On this basis the battle of Armageddon began with Israel’s War of Independence in 1948, has continued with subsequent battles up until today and beyond, at least until the return of Jesus Christ. This is this article’s most favoured identification.

 

If the criteria to meet an Armageddon battle remain limited to conflicts centred on Israel in the Holy Land, both before and after the return of Jesus Christ, the candidates grouped together are

 

  • the Israel/Arab conflict
  • the Iraq [Micah 5] invasion
  • the Gogian invasion and
  • the revolt at the end of the thousand years.

 

Are these together Armageddon?

Only the first three are in any way likely.

In Revelation 16:16 Armageddon had been the climax of events in the sixth vial/bowl that included centuries of God’s disciplinary measures centred on Europe including two world wars and the dissolution of the Turkish Empire freeing the Holy Land. The climax of all these centuries of activity had been the reforming of the nation of Israel and the resulting Armageddon opposition. Immediately after the word Armageddon is a major break in the prophetic account. “Then the seventh angel poured out his vial/bowl” and the heavenly exclamation “It is done” was uttered.

What “is done”? It appears to be the arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem and the proclamation of the Kingdom. Great upheavals are described as thunders, lightnings, a great earthquake and “the cities of the nations fell”. Then “great Babylon was remembered before God”, Babylon being a symbolic method of depicting the European Roman “beast”. The implication is that the ten kings’ revenge of the burning of the Roman city, the third of the first three battles, seems separated from Armageddon by the major break in the account of Revelation 16 between vv. 16 and 17. Armageddon then appears to be those conflicts fought between 1948 and the time of “It is done” – the arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem. This period of time, that has ticked away for around 60 years so far, seems to be “that great day of God Almighty”.

A further possible, but unlikely, consideration is that Armageddon is the broad concept of the gathering and defeat of all the nations that oppose Israel and the Kingdom right through to the end of the thousand year reign of Jesus Christ – many battles and a very long period of time. The account would cover Revelation 16:12 [the work of the frog-like spirits in gathering the nations] right through to the end of Revelation chapter 20 with the elimination of the very last Kingdom opposition.

Conclusion

The reference to Armageddon offers very little detail, is non-specific and open to a variety of interpretations. Essentially, it offers the general guarantee that God is marshalling the nations that oppose his will to a conclusive showdown. Their opposition will be crushed and God’s purpose will be achieved, signified by the telling announcement “It is done”. In basic detail, that is all we need to know.

In the meantime we watch the unfolding events in the Middle East, assured by many signs that, although Israel will be reduced to the necessity of being rescued by God from impending doom, the Kingdom reign of Jesus Christ from Jerusalem will eventually bring peace and harmony to a battered world. May that time come quickly.