Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Will Israel enter the fray regarding Syria?

I am watching the Middle East situation carefully. I have some concerns regarding if the conflagration will widen, and if it does, whether some of the prophesied wars will begin. I don't know if the time is now or not, but it seems to me that we have had so many near misses of late (in the last 4 years) and those near misses are coming faster and more frequently, that they seem like birth pangs to me, ready to break water and flood the world with Tribulation. That is my opinion. In any case, we know that the last days wars will happen and one of these days they will begin. I just happen to think it will be sooner rather than later.

In watching the news and reading the Old Testament prophets, I noticed something that Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee Chairman MK Avigdor Lieberman yesterday struck me. He said--

"that Israel does not want to become embroiled in the Syrian conflict, but may have to hit back if it is struck. ... Lieberman said that Israel does not want to enter the fray against Syria but added, “We may have no choice, but I hope that everyone knows how to read the map correctly and understand that Israel has no interest in entering the whirlpool of the Arab world.” "

What I believe he was referring to is that Israel is a tiny nation, completely surrounded by implacable enemies. If the situation goes south in Syria, well, Israel is to the south and undoubtedly Israel will receive either purposeful targeting or accidental blowback. Either way, the job of the Foreign Affairs Secretary is to protect the people.

However, when has that situation ever been different? Israel has always been surrounded by implacable enemies. We we do know how to read a map and we do know that at some point every single one of those enemies abutting the tiny nation of God's people will attack. Many prophecy interpreters believe that battle is prophesied in Psalm 83.

Psalm 83 is an imprecatory psalm, imprecatory meaning calling a curse upon someone or on a nation. In Psalm 83 Asaph is calling for God to intervene against a coalition of nations which are colluding to attack Israel.

The reason some interpreters think this is an unfulfilled prayer is that the particular configuration of nations who are colluding and attacking have never joined up to attack Israel in history past. Though parts of the psalm have been fulfilled and now are history, the psalm has not seen fulfillment in the exactly as described. So they believe it is still future. Here are the first 8 verses to the Psalm:
A Song. A Psalm of Asaph.

1 O God, do not keep silence;
do not hold your peace or be still, O God!
2 For behold, your enemies make an uproar;
those who hate you have raised their heads.
3 They lay crafty plans against your people;
they consult together against your treasured ones.
4 They say, “Come, let us wipe them out as a nation;
let the name of Israel be remembered no more!”
5 For they conspire with one accord;
against you they make a covenant—
6 the tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites,
Moab and the Hagrites,
7 Gebal and Ammon and Amalek,
Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre;
8 Asshur also has joined them;
they are the strong arm of the children of Lot. Selah

The nations named also in today's modern language, are:
  • Edom & Moab, are southern and middle Jordan.
  • Ishmaelites, Hagrites, and Amalekites are descended from Hagar and Ishmael, and settled in southern Jordan and Saudi Arabia. (Map shows Amalekites being solely in Egypt, again, this is another interpretation)
  • Ammon is norther Jordan. Its capital today is still Ammon.
  • Gebal & Tyre are in Lebanon.
  • Philistia is Gaza.
  • Asshur is northern Iraq and western Syria (Assyria)
So in reading the map, we see that Asaph is pleading for deliverance from a coalition which intends to wipe Israel from the map.

Be advised that there is a lot of disagreement about the purpose of this psalm (imprecatory only? partially prophetic?) and its fulfillment's timing, (past? present? or still far future?)

One thing I like to do is look at the bible's end and work backward. We know that in the end, all nations will be against Israel. (Zechariah 12:3). Backing up some, we know that in Ezekiel 38-39 another, different coalition attacks Israel while Israel is dwelling securely. We know that battle is going to take place in the latter days because it says so in Ezekiel 38:16. Also, in Ezekiel 38:22 God says He will rain down sulfur on the hordes coming to attack Israel. This has never happened.

So the coalition named in Ezekiel's attack are are non-abutting neighbors of Israel. Israel's abutting neighbors are all named in the Psalm 83 prayer. It is thought that the victory given Israel over the Psalm 83 coalition nullifies them and takes them out of action. So when the second waves of attacks comes in Ezekiel's coalition, it is subsequent to Psalm 83 because none of the nearer inner circle is named. Logic dictates they would be part of this attack if they could be. Others wonder about Israel dwelling securely, without bars or walls. What could make Israel lower their security vigilance? Perhaps the fulfillment of Psalm 83, where Israel vanquishes all her abutting enemies and is dwelling safely in the land? (Ezekiel 39:26)

If you think of satan's attempts to get rid of Israel, as Israel being the bulls eye, and Psalm 83 being the first wave, then Ezekiel 39-39 being the widened wave of a larger and further-afield coalition of enemies, and then culminating in Armageddon with all the world coming against her, this seems to be the prevailing thought on the successive prophesied battles of the latter days.


Mr Lieberman is right. Anybody looking at a map can see that Israel is surrounded, small, and in all likelihood, going to be obliterated. However, that is not in God's plan. As surprising as it is and as it will be to those who dwell on the earth, Israel is in fact an immovable rock, and those who try to dig her up or push her over will themselves be injured. (Zechariah 12:3).

If only Mr Lieberman knew that his nation has the only perfect and strong protector! What comfort that would be as all the missiles are aimed at her, as all the hordes storm the mountains like insects. As the bombs come down, the Lord will personally bat them away! (Ezekiel 39:3)

"The fish of the sea and the birds of the heavens and the beasts of the field and all creeping things that creep on the ground, and all the people who are on the face of the earth, shall quake at my presence. And the mountains shall be thrown down, and the cliffs shall fall, and every wall shall tumble to the ground." (Ezekiel 38:20).

Not that Israel won't be harmed at all during the Tribulation, she will, (Zechariah 14:2) but the Lord God Almighty will not let His people nor His designated land be overrun or destroyed at the hands of the Gentiles. He keeps His promises. Though we do see by the map that tiny Israel is beleaguered, beset, and besmirched, she will prevail in the end. That is because God always prevails in the end.

“And my holy name I will make known in the midst of my people Israel, and I will not let my holy name be profaned anymore. And the nations shall know that I am the LORD, the Holy One in Israel." (Ezekiel 39:7)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


further reading


Fears of a Larger War in the Middle East
"Will the phrase “Guns of August” one day refer not only to the prelude to World War I in 1914 but also to the prelude to a Middle East war in 2013?  That is the ominous question posed by Roger Boyes, the diplomatic editor of the Times of London and a foreign correspondent for the past 35 years.  “The direction of events in Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Iran should keep us awake at night. History is taking a dangerous turn,” he writes. “The region certainly cannot sustain two wars — Syria’s bloody insurgency and a near-civil war in Egypt — without wrecking established peace treaties and the normal mechanisms for defusing conflict.”



20 comments:

  1. Do you think we're reaching the fulfillment of Isaiah 17? Sure looks like it.

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    1. Hi Anonymous,

      I think with the continued military conflict in Syria, that certainly it seems that any little spark could ignite passions tot he degree that Damascus could be destroyed. The Isaiah 17:1 prophecy to which you refer does say that Damascus ceases to be a city, so it hasn't been fulfilled yet, but yes, the conditions are there as never before for the city to be at risk of obliteration

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  2. It should be noted that Psalm 83 never actually mentions an attack on Israel.

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    1. in the Psalm, where it says "your people", "your treasured ones" and "the nation" it is accepted language that this means Israel. Just as Daniel said in Daniel 9:24 "your people and your holy city", the Lord's people are the Jews and the holy city is Jerusalem. Same-same

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    2. I don't think anonymous above was questioning if it was Israel or not. He was questioning the notion it is attacked, because it never says it. It says, 'lay crafty plans', consult, conspire, make a covenant, but it doesn't say attack.

      Regardless, one doesn't conspire unless they seek to attack eventually.
      I don't think Psalm 83 is one of those milestone markers to the end of days that everyone makes it out to be. Psalm 83, in my mind, is one of those ongoing timeless prophecies that speaks of a universal truth. Meaning when ever God's people are gathered in one location, she will be surrounded by people and nations who seek to destroy her. It is the way of Satan. It was then as it is now.

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    3. Isaiah 17 seems to imply that Israel will suffer too, as a consequence of the attack on Syria.

      "In that day the glory of Jacob will fade; the fat of his body will waste away."

      Iran threatened to attack Israel should the US make good of its intention to attack Syria. And Russia and China could easily jump into the bandwagon, resulting to a full-blown war.

      I hope Obama considers the repercussions carefully before pulling the trigger. This is a very sensitive situation that could plunge the world into WW3.

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    4. Hi Anonymous,

      Well said. On some days I have that exact opinion. On others, I think that the specificity of naming the exact nations and the quotes of their exact words makes me believe that it is going to come to pass exactly as stated (as opposed to being a general universal truth.) In any case, we won't have long to find out, I think...

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  3. The real war in the heavens, is about satan waging against the Almighty. This terrestrial occurrence is the manifestation of this spiritual conflict being played out using people.

    I believe that the inspired Word of God is of use no matter the age.

    One of Israels triumphs came as a result of Jehosaphat pleading with God as he assembled Israel every single person and called out to God for intervention.

    1 Kings 22
    45 Now the rest of the acts of Jehoshaphat, and his might that he shewed, and how he warred, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?

    2 Chronicles 20

    It came to pass after this also, that the children of Moab, and the children of Ammon, and with them other beside the Ammonites, came against Jehoshaphat to battle.

    2 Then there came some that told Jehoshaphat, saying, There cometh a great multitude against thee from beyond the sea on this side Syria; and, behold, they be in Hazazontamar, which is Engedi.

    3 And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.

    4 And Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the Lord: even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.

    5 And Jehoshaphat stood in the congregation of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord, before the new court,

    6 And said, O Lord God of our fathers, art not thou God in heaven? and rulest not thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? and in thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee?

    7 Art not thou our God, who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel, and gavest it to the seed of Abraham thy friend for ever?

    8 And they dwelt therein, and have built thee a sanctuary therein for thy name, saying,

    9 If, when evil cometh upon us, as the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we stand before this house, and in thy presence, (for thy name is in this house,) and cry unto thee in our affliction, then thou wilt hear and help.

    10 And now, behold, the children of Ammon and Moab and mount Seir, whom thou wouldest not let Israel invade, when they came out of the land of Egypt, but they turned from them, and destroyed them not;

    11 Behold, I say, how they reward us, to come to cast us out of thy possession, which thou hast given us to inherit.

    12 O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee.

    13 And all Judah stood before the Lord, with their little ones, their wives, and their children.

    14 Then upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, came the Spirit of the Lord in the midst of the congregation;

    15 And he said, Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou king Jehoshaphat, Thus saith the Lord unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God's.

    16 To morrow go ye down against them: behold, they come up by the cliff of Ziz; and ye shall find them at the end of the brook, before the wilderness of Jeruel.

    17 Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; to morrow go out against them: for the Lord will be with you.

    18 And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground: and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell before the Lord, worshipping the Lord.




    Thank you Lord for this type and picture of how YOU INTEND to bring about Your victory against your enemies.

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  4. Hi Elizabeth, The text of Psalm 83 never at any point says that this confederation of Israel's enemies will actually attack Israel, only that it plots against them and that it plans to destroy Israel as a nation. John F.

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    1. Your right. It could absolutely happen a different and unexpected way. However the basic hermeneutical principle of taking the plain meaning for what it is, means that many before me have interpreted the phrases "ememies making a tumult" "conspiring" "crafty plans" as meaning an attack. "Raised up their heads means as in Judges 8:28 to take a menacing attitude. "“Come, let us wipe them out as a nation; let the name of Israel be remembered no more!”" certainly seems aggressive, accomplished by attack. And the other reference to possessing lands is the same.

      I tend to agree with other scholars that the plain language in Psalm 83 indicates an aggressive coalition attacking Israel. Or as you say, all that hostility and aggressive language may indeed not add up to an actual attack. We will certainly find out sooner or later.

      Incidentally, the bible doesn't at any point say the word "Trinity" and the bible never at any point says "rapture" but we understand what the intent of the scripture is by plain meaning of the whole. An omission of a certain word doesn't necessarily mean it isn't there.

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    2. I agree. My guess is that the confederation of nations referred to in Psalm 83 will form part of the great army that Jesus will destroy in the Day of the Lord. John F.

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    3. Could well be, John F. Thanks for your insights.

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  5. Hi Elizabeth, I was wondering if you have any figures on how much of Damascus has already been destroyed due to the civil war? If there isn't a lot of the city left it won't take much to turn the remnants into a smoldering heap via Isaiah 17.

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    1. That's a good question. I'll try to see what I can find out.

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    2. this essay speaks to the issue, it was published on Aug 2, 2013

      http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2013/aug/02/damascus-whats-left/

      "While the brutal devastation caused by the Syrian conflict, now entering its third year, has affected many parts of the country, the Syrian government has long sought to portray the capital as an oasis of calm. Unlike Aleppo, parts of which have been destroyed by a year of battle, central Damascus shows few physical scars of war, apart from the many roadblocks and checkpoints, and the burned-out remains of a building northeast of the city that was bombed. Unlike Raqqa, a city in the east of Syria that is in the hands of extremist rebels, Damascus looks like a bastion of tolerant, vibrant life. In this view, the functioning city demonstrates both the continued strength of the regime and the dangers of the increasingly fractured opposition. But as my visit to the Umayyad Mosque revealed, under the surface things aren’t the same in the Syrian capital."
      http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2013/aug/02/damascus-whats-left/

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  6. Thanks for the link to the article. So Damascus hangs on for now... but since France and the UK have backed down from taking military action against Assad, Lord knows what will happen next. I don't see Obama going in alone and really doubt any ME countries are going to enter the fray alongside the US. This will just embolden Assad and his proxy partners to think they can do whatever they want and I guess at some point they'll set their sights on Israel.

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    1. You're welcome! Your re-statement of what may happen sounds very likely and quite reasonable. I was amazed that the UK backed down. Joel C. Rosenberg was writing earlier that the Muslim nations are always happy to call our bluff. Once called, when we fail to act, they, as you said, simply become emboldened. Israel alone may do something. Or not. It's such a jumble right now. As the Chinese curse says, "May you live in interesting times!?

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  7. It really is very fluid. You don't know what's gonna happen next, who attacks who. We didn't see the Arab Spring coming two years ago. It just erupted out of the blue! Who knows what surprise await us in the days ahead. It's a good thing we have our helmet of salvation on, giving us an assurance of redemption at the perfect time.

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    1. You're so right, anonymous. I cling more than ever to Jesus and I am SOOOOOO grateful for the assurance of salvation. It is my rock in fluid times.

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  8. It is possible that Obama backs down and there will be no attack. In this case the US loses "face" compared to the rest of the world as we cannot support our threats with action. State actors the size of Syria and larger now would realize that the US has no more domestic support for war and their will be increased anarchy at the low level of international relations. Large global players like Russia, China, India, and Brazil would see the current Administration as fools.

    Unfortunately, a much worse scenario could be developing.

    For the first time since 1956 in the Suez crisis the US and Britain are at odds in a potential military conflict. Should Obama act without the support of the country with whom we enjoy a "special relationship," we may lose access to the British Cypriot base which was to provide fighter support over the four destroyers in any attack (normally destroyers are part of an aircraft carrier battle group but for some reason, maybe hubris, we have not included a carrier.) Furthermore, we no longer have access to Italian air bases, Jordan bases or airspaces, Saudi airspace, among other restrictions.

    This means in practicality, that the four destroyers that we will use to fire the 100 plus cruise missiles will be without any additional protection and will have no tactical surprise. Furthermore, the US without fighter support is almost certain to stay at least 300 miles from the Syrian coast, giving Assad forty minutes warning of incoming missiles. Syria would have forty minutes to scramble its 350 active jets to attempt to find and shoot down the Tomahawk missiles before they reached land. I recently observed a Syrian fighter attack a FSA position in a youtube video, and this pilot did it in an absolute fearless and textbook manner. Well, these pilots are likely Christian, Alewite, or Shi'ite who will be executed and their children raped if the FSA rebels defeat Assad's military, and their motivation has translated into far above expected performance. The US might be absolutely humiliated if our Tomahawk missiles are destroyed before reaching the Syrian coasts by hero pilots. Since there is know no allied base close to the action, and since our aircraft carriers are not in the vicinity, we would not be able to have air support to ensure the missiles flew to their targets unmolested. This is most likely our tactic, that is to keep our destroyers out of harms way thereby giving Assad a good chance of intercepting the Tomahawks. The other tactic is to push the destroyers close to shore so Assad would not have time to react, but we might end up with four destroyers at the bottom of the ocean.

    Here is the scary part. What if the US takes the safe option and Assad somehow blunts our attack, humiliating the power the United States in front of the entire world. Oh, note that this will also be a demonstration of how to defeat a first strike attempt by the US so China and Russia will now know that they no longer have to fear the US. Instead of taking our humiliation, we might react. As an enraged bully is somehow thwarted through cleverness and the providence of a kind teacher, we might take the mask off our diplomatic face.

    The United States, the beacon of light to the world, could become the messenger of hell. Out of sheer wrath we might rage against the Orthodox Christians and their Alewite protectors of the Syrian air force. No one is allowed to disobey or be against the United States the god-like US generals hiss, and especially not a Christian-tolerating patriarchal society. The justification within our military for a massive second strike would be to demonstrate our power to Russia, China and the like, In reality, our wrath against fathers, mothers, and their children would spew out of the mouth of the beast, and those Syrians who had not fled Damascus would be utterly annihilated.

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