Middle East War in Bible Prophecy: Invasions of Israel
What’s Special about Israel?
The land variously called Israel, Palestine or the Holy Land is extremely small compared to its neighbours. It’s about the size of Wales. Its original occupants (the 12 tribes of Israel) were scattered to the nations some 2,500 years ago and since then the land it has been occupied by Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Turks and the British. Even in 1900 the population of Israel was only some 500,000; it was politically and industrially insignificant, with a mix of many peoples representing some 50 languages. So why is Israel frequently in world focus today?
During the 20th century Israel saw astounding development, especially after becoming a state in 1948. For example, from 1958 – 1965 it saw a growth of 13.6% in manufacturing. And the population grew from 0.5m in 1900 to 8.7m in 2020. It now has high-tech industries, forestry and agricultural industries, and a highly developed infrastructure. But these facts alone are insufficient to warrant world attention. There must be a more fundamental reason.
The reason for Israel’s prominence today is biblical rather than political. The Bible says that God chose a special people to be His witness to the world:
‘You are My witnesses,’ declares the LORD, ‘And My servant whom I have chosen’ … And what nation on the earth is like Your people Israel, whom God went to redeem for Himself as a people and to make a name for Himself, and to do a great thing for You and awesome things for Your land …’ (Isa 43:10)(2 Sam 7:23)
Although the nation of Israel was scattered some 2500 years ago, the Bible says that it will be regathered in the last days of this age:
I will take the sons of Israel from among the nations where they have gone … and bring them into their own land … (Ezek 37:21)
This regathering is now well underway and Israel is taking prominence on the world stage. According to prophecy, the God of the Bible will make a name for Himself through Israel in the last days. The world will no longer be able to ignore Him.
The Political Bias against Israel
Many claim there is worldwide mainstream media bias against Israel. A common media claim is ‘the illegal occupation of Palestinian land’, but detailed legal analysis shows this to be untrue. Sometimes the media is simply a forum to express hatred. Admittedly, Israel has been weak on public relations, but that does not justify the almost universal bias against her. For example, Europe has not reacted to the Islamization of the biblical holy places in Hebron by UNESCO (Hebron is considered the second-holiest city in Judaism after Jerusalem), and in Britain the BBC has been accused of reporting bias in favour of Hamas. Also, the British Foreign Office does not allow the Queen to make a state visit to Israel, but she can visit Islamic states! In Britain’s defence, a few have spoken up for Israel. In a speech to the British House of Commons, Andrew Roberts MP argued for Israel’s right to self-defence and legitimacy:
The UN Bias
It is prophesied that all nations will eventually abandon support for Israel. Today there is reducing public support for Israel even in America. In fact, all nations will eventually be gathered against her in war (see later). This international bias is best seen in UN Resolutions.
The vast majority of critical resolutions passed by the UN General Assembly focus on Israel … from 2012 to 2015, the General Assembly adopted 97 resolutions criticizing countries … about 85% were against Israel. The General Assembly adopted 26 resolutions that criticised a country in 2016, of which 20 were directed at Israel. [Fact Check]
This is surprising since Israel is the only true democracy left in the Middle East. The United Nations has made the democratic State of Israel the target of incessant condemnation while neglecting its mandate in challenging the oppressive regimes around the world. The video below highlights the UN bias against Israel:
The Aggression against Israel
The political bias of the western nations sharpens into aggression when we turn to the Middle East. Much of the conflict between Israel and the Arab-Islamic nations is over Israel’s very existence:
We must constantly repeat that the root of the conflict is the very existence of the State of Israel, the refusal to recognise the State of Israel in any borders whatsoever [Benjamin Netanyahu, 2012]
For example, consider the following aggressive statements:
Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it [Hamas Charter, 1988]
Israel has continued too long … the battle has come … we shall destroy Israel [President of Egypt, 1967]
Israel has no roots in the Middle East and would be ‘eliminated’ [President of Iran, 2012]
Israel is a cancerous tumour that should be cut and will be cut [Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, 2012]
You [Zionist regime] will not see 25 years from today! [Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei, Sept. 2015]
The revised Hamas Charter is essentially unchanged from 1988. So to date, no Hamas representative has ever renounced the Hamas Charter (it is a religious document and so cannot be changed, link) and their objective remains to replace the Jewish state with an Islamic caliphate, link. Those who say such things should note that they are simply fulfilling Bible prophecy:
They have said, ‘Come, and let us wipe them out as a nation, that the name of Israel be remembered no more’ (Psalm 83:4)
I will bless those who bless you and I will curse him who curses you (Gen 12:3)
No weapon formed against you shall prosper (Isa 54:17)
So-called ‘Land Occupation’
In the light of such statements, Israel’s border locations seem academic. Nevertheless, in the absence of war, this hatred of Israel surfaces as a conflict over ‘occupied land’, ‘illegal settlements’, and the religious significance of Jerusalem. For a detailed legal defence of Israel’s land occupation see Israel’s Legal Borders. From a biblical point of view, the land of Israel was given by God to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and their descendants, see The Purpose of Israel.
The biblical injunction to Israel is to occupy the promised land and embrace the foreigner in the land.
The future biblical boundaries of Israel range from ‘the river of Egypt’ (not the Nile) in the south, to the Jordan valley in the east, to Hamath in the north (see The Millennial Reign of Christ). Clearly, the boundaries include both the Gaza strip and the West Bank of the Jordan. They also include significant parts of present-day Syria i.e. up to Hamath, and probably all of Lebanon.
Clearly, the trauma caused by so-called ‘illegal settlements’ has to be acknowledged (see The Palestinian problem), but the settlement problem must also be seen in context. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict was raging long before the building of settlements:
From 1948 to 1967 (when the West Bank was part of Jordan and Gaza was part of Egypt) the Arab world sought Israel’s annihilation when not a single settlement stood anywhere in the West Bank or Gaza. The primary obstacle to peace is the Arab world’s refusal to acknowledge the Jewish people’s ancient connection to the Land of Israel – and the Palestinian’s insistence on the so-called right of return (where Palestinians return to the Jewish state). [Ron Prosor, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Security Council]
Future Middle East Wars
Bible prophecy describes how the increasing political bias of western nations, and the increasing aggression of Arab-Muslim nations finally leads to a major war against Israel. In fact, since prophecy here is not precise, some see several major wars just before the close of this age and the Second Coming of Christ. Let’s summarise the main points in Bible prophecy:
- Any major future aggression against Israel, including invasions, will be defeated by the God of Israel. The nation of Israel will survive into the Millennial Age
- Key prophecies are Ps 83, Isa 17, Jer 49, Ezek 38,39, Zech 12,14, Joel 3, Mal 4, Mat 24, and Rev 16,19,20
- Psalm 83 speaks of an alliance of invading nations (mainly an Arab-Islamic alliance), and Isa 17 and Jer 49 speak of the destruction of one particular city, Damascus
- Zech 12, Zech 14, Joel 3, Rev 16 and Rev 19 appear to describe the final ‘all-nation’ invasion (the Battle of Armageddon) which is defeated at Christ’s Second Coming. This time is referred to as ‘The Great Day of God’, or ‘The Day of the Lord’
- The prophecies of Ezek 38 and Ezek 39 are relatively difficult to interpret and have led to much scholarly debate. They may refer to a single invasion, or to two separate invasions.
- If separate invasions, Ezek 39 may refer to the final, ‘all-nation’ invasion (Armageddon) or to an Arab-Islamic invasion prior to Armageddon. And Ezek 38 may refer to the post-Millennial Gog-Magog invasion of Israel in Rev 20
- If Ezek 38 and Ezek 39 refer to the same invasion, they may refer to an Arab-Islamic invasion prior to the final invasion (Armageddon). If this is the case, we can expect a peace treaty to be signed with Israel in the near future
- The weapons referred to in the above prophecies are those familiar to historic Israel. They may be actual end-time weapons, but are more likely to be symbolic of well-equipped armies using weapons of today. Malachi 4 and Zech 14 appear to describe how the invaders in the final conflict(s) will perish, and may be references to nuclear war and the use of neutron bombs respectively. Matthew 24 could describe the suffering of Israel at this time
Middle East war: An Arab-Islamic Invasion
It seems very plausible that Ezek 38 and Ezek 39 (or Ezek 39 alone) refer to an invasion of Israel prior to the Battle of Armageddon, and that this involves mainly those Arab-Islamic nations surrounding Israel. This view is supported by the fact that some nations denounce the invasion (Ezek 38:13) and by the fact that God is ‘hallowed’ in the sight of many other nations through the defeat of the invader (Ezek 38:16, Ezek 39:27). In other words, not all nations seem to be involved. Moreover, key Arab-Islamic nations seem to be identified, and so this viewpoint suggests the defeat and humiliation of militant Islam in the sight of many nations. Let’s examine this in more detail.
The invasion is sometimes referred to as the Gog-Magog war since it is led by ‘Gog of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal … from out of the far north ‘ (Ezek 38:2,15). Here, ‘Gog’ could be a specific people, or symbolic of anti-God forces. Where is the land of Magog? The historian Josephus claimed that Magog was the land of the nomadic Scythians, the region north and northeast of the Black Sea and east of the Caspian Sea. Today some identify this area with Russia, which is indeed to the ‘far north’ of Israel. Gomer and the house of Togarmah are also mentioned (Ezek 38:6).
Gomer was an Aryan group who conquered Armenia (essentially present-day Turkey) from their Ukrainian homeland, and Togarmah was the south-eastern part of Turkey near the Syrian border. Biblical maps confirm this and locate Magog, Meshech, Tubal and Gomer in Asia Minor or Turkey – again, all north of Israel. Turkey suggests Islamic forces, and this view is supported by the other nations involved (Ezek 38:5), namely Persia (Iran, now 99% Muslim), Ethiopia (Heb: Cush) and Libya (Heb: Put). All this is pretty specific on location and seems to involve principally Arab-Islamic nations in the Middle East!
Is Syria Involved?
If Israel is to be invaded from the north, then, if only from a geographic viewpoint, it would seem Syria must be involved (see Fig.1). Moreover, this mainly Arabic country is 88% Islamic and is already Israel’s enemy. Israel has warned Syria that it now considers Hezbollah to be the military arm of Syria, and that – if Hezbollah attacks Israel – Israel will “return Syria to the Stone Age”, link. And that includes destroying Damascus, the capital. Damascus is claimed to be the world’s oldest, continuously inhabited city. Whilst it has suffered attack (2 Kings 16:9) it has never been totally destroyed – until now. Prophecy states that one day soon it will be totally destroyed:
Damascus will cease from being a city … it will be a ruinous heap (Isa 17:1)
Further detail about the defeat of Damascus is found in Jer 49:23-27. The destruction comes through the intervention of the God of Israel (v27).
Weapons and Timing
As discussed, a straight reading of prophecy suggests that Israel’s invaders use primitive weapons that can be burnt for fuel (Ezek 39:9-10 suggests they are combustible). However, Mal 4 and Zech 14 may refer to the actual weapons used, which seem to be modern, and so the combustible element could be unused fuel. The invaders do not appear to reach Jerusalem; rather, they fall on the mountains of Israel and in the open field (Ezek 39:4-5). They appear to be defeated by God’s intervention, rather than by the armies of Israel (Ezek 39:3). This is in the form of extreme weather – extreme rain and hail – and also by fire and brimstone, probably similar to that which destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah (Ezek 38:22).
The invasion occurs when Israel is at peace and feels secure:
… a land of unwalled villages … all of them dwelling without walls … (Ezek 38:11)
This can be viewed in several ways. It may simply refer to the fact that through the recent aliyah (high immigration to Israel), then Israel is simply overflowing with people:
Jerusalem shall be inhabited as towns without walls, because of the multitude of men and livestock in it (Zech 2:4)
On the other hand, Ezekiel 38:11 may refer to a ‘peace treaty’ signed prior to the invasion. This may be the seven-year peace treaty signed between the world dictator and Israel at the start of Daniel’s 70th week, link. After the defeat of the invasion, Israel will set about burying the dead for seven months (Ezek 39:12).
Perhaps the most significant result of this invasion is that the supernatural intervention by the God of Israel forces the nations (including Israel) to recognise Him (Ezek 38:16, 39:21-29).
A Post-Millennial Invasion
If Ezekiel 38 refers to a different war to Ezekiel 39, then Ezekiel 38 may refer to the post-Millennial Gog-Magog invasion of Israel in Rev 20:7-10. Certainly, Israel will be at peace and live securely throughout the Millennium with no need for military forces (Ezek 38:8,11), and it will be necessary for God alone to destroy the invader (Ezek 38:22, Rev 20:9). Also, today’s weapons will be a thing of the past in the Millennium and primitive weapons (Ezek 38:4-5) may return. See also The Last Years of this Age and The Millennial Age.
The Last Middle East War of the Age: the ‘All-Nation’ Invasion
The timing of this invasion appears to be at the very end of this age, just prior to the return of Christ to the earth. God says:
Proclaim this among the nations: prepare for war … assemble and come, all you nations, and gather together all around’ (Joel 3:9,11)
I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle … (Zech 14:2)
I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone … though all nations of the earth are gathered against it (Zech 12:3)
What of America?
The term ‘all nations’ appears to be precisely that (rather than Middle East nations local to Israel) if it is to be consistent with Zechariah 14:9; the Lord cannot be King over part of the earth! Now if all world leaders attack Israel, this implies a change of policy in America, or even the absence of America on the world scene! Bear in mind that the nations will be under the World Government which will be vehemently anti-Christian and anti-Jewish.
The leader of this invasion is the ‘little horn’ of Daniel 7:20, the ‘abominator’ of Daniel 9:27 and Mat 24:15, the ‘king’ of Daniel 11.36, the ‘king of the north’ of Dan 11.40, the ‘man of sin’ of 2 Thes 2:3, the ‘lawless one’ of 2 Thes 2:8, the ‘beast’ of Rev 13:1-8, the ‘conqueror’ of Rev 6:2, and the ‘beast’ of Rev 19:19. He is the end time World Dictator, who many believe will arise from a Revived Roman Empire in Europe.
What of China?
As implied, this political and secular leader of the coming World Government is also a military leader. Satan gives him total military supremacy over mankind (Rev 13:1-4). He readily wages war on the earth, and a quarter of the world’s population dies as a result of war at the time of the 4th seal (Rev 6:8). Later, at the sounding of the 6th trumpet, he may engage in another major war, this time a Middle East war. Recall that at the pouring out of the 6th bowl of wrath, the Euphrates dries up and provides a path for ‘the kings of the east‘ (Rev 16:12). Then at the 6th trumpet, demonic activity draws a massive army (200 million strong) and the resulting war kills a further third of mankind (Rev 9:13-21). In total perhaps half of mankind die as a result of these end time wars.
Some speculate that this battle involves China (as in ‘kings from the east’), link. As of 2012, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) was the largest army in the world (2.3m) with increasing hi-tech weaponry. Between 2007-2016 Chinese military spending increased by 118 percent compared with a decrease of 5 percent for the USA, BBC World News.
The “Battle of Armageddon”
It is this last gathering of forces that is especially significant. As the 6th bowl is poured out, demonic spirits entice the leaders of the nations to gather for battle (Rev 16:12-16). The armies gather at a place called Armageddon (Hebrew ‘har megiddo’ or ‘Mountain of Megiddo’, Rev 16:16). This is located in northern Israel in the valley or plain of Jezreel, near Mount Carmel. It is an ideal location for amassing large armies. As discussed, it may be the location of the last war between human armies. But we certainly know that it is the gathering place for the world’s armies as they prepare for the final war against Jerusalem and in particular for war against Christ and His armies (Rev 19.19)(Zech 12:2-9).
This man-God war is the final Middle East war of this age – ‘the great day of God Almighty’ (Rev 16:14). It is described in detail in Rev 19:11-21 and Zech 14. In summary:
- half of the city of Jerusalem is captured
- God Himself fights against the world’s armies
- the Israeli’s (the ‘tribe of Judah’) also fight
- the attacking armies suffer a ‘flesh-rotting’ plague and are defeated
- If Ezek 39 refers to this war, it will take Israel seven months to bury the defeated armies
- the end time World Dictator – the ‘beast’ is captured and removed from the earthly scene
Prophecy also suggests the type of weaponry used in this coming aggression against Jerusalem. The ‘all-nation’ war could use neutron bombs (since these vaporise flesh at close range) and also nuclear devices (since Malachi 4 refers to a time of fierce heat when attackers will be burnt to ashes). This last battle of the age sees the end of the godless World Government and ushers in the Millennial reign of Christ. This is the time when Christ reigns from Jerusalem as King over all the earth (Zech 14:9).
The Implications for YOU
End time prophecies are being fulfilled before our eyes; the emergence of a World Government, the emergence of Israel, the emergence of electronic ID, and the ubiquitous climate change. You are being swept into a humanistic, godless and potentially brutal World Government or New World Order. Sooner or later this system will require you to receive the mark of Revelation (the ultimate electronic ID) in order to buy or sell. And because of its hatred towards the God of the Bible, Christians and Jews, this world system will conspire against Israel. National armies will be mobilised for war against Israel. You may even be asked to have some part in this invasion.
The turmoil in the Middle East and the anger against Israel are signs that an invasion will take place in the foreseeable future. Within just 100 years Israel has gone from insignificance to the vortex of the world.
The significant point is that when the final invasion starts Jesus will return to earth. In fact, there is strong biblical support for the view that Christians (believers in Christ) will be taken from the earth prior to the emergence of the World Dictator and the coming world wars. Christians refer to this as the Rapture. See also Christ’s Second Coming and The Last Years of this Age.