Ezekiel 38 Heads Up # 5

Three current news reports indicate it’s time for another Ezekiel 38 heads up. Remember Ezekiel prophesied that sometime after the Nation of Israel was re-born, but before the beginning of the Millennium, a group of Moslem nations led by Iran and armed by Russia would pull of a devastating sneak attack, entering Israel from the North.

A Bible Study by Jack Kelley

Three current news reports indicate it’s time for another Ezekiel 38 heads up. Remember Ezekiel prophesied that sometime after the Nation of Israel was re-born, but before the beginning of the Millennium, a group of Moslem nations led by Iran and armed by Russia would pull off a devastating sneak attack, entering Israel from the North. For reasons that will become obvious later in this article, we’ve been watching current events that seem to be bringing this prophecy closer to fulfillment. Now to the three news items.

First, in an interview this week, three senior Israeli lawmakers said that if the US doesn’t destroy Iran’s nuclear capability, Israel will.

“We will not live under the threat of an Iranian nuclear bomb,” they promised. “Diplomacy will not work. They won’t be stopped unless they are convinced their programs will be destroyed if they continue.”

Israelis across the political spectrum see Iran as the most serious threat to Israel, one that cannot be ignored. The three conceded that there could be problems if Israel acted unilaterally.

“If we have to do it, we will do it. If the United States and the world community do it, there is a chance the issue can be contained. If Israel has to do it alone, there is no chance the conflict can be contained,” they said.

(Although the interview took place in Washington, it was largely ignored in the western press, even though one of the lawmakers is Chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. The quotes above are from the Times of India.)

Apparently Iranian officials knew about the interview, because they responded by saying that Israel would be ill advised to try such a thing. (This wasn’t reported in the West either.)

Next, Great Britain has revealed that Iran is hiring Iraqi Sunnis to attack coalition forces. Coalition units have been crossing the Iraqi border into Syria to battle insurgents hiding there lately, and because of its treaty with Syria, this obligates Iran to respond. So far Iran has avoided direct contact, preferring to hire Iraqis to do the fighting, but Britain has stated it holds Iran responsible for the recent deaths of 8 English soldiers.

Iran has angrily denied the charges, although its president previously warned that he would punish those countries voting to formally charge Iran with non-compliance of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. The vote was successful. Analysts conclude that for countries involved in Iraq, he was speaking militarily.

And finally President Assad of Syria might be in big trouble if the UN investigation into the death of popular Lebanese leader Rafik Hariri implicates his brother and brother-in-law, which now seems likely. Hariri died in a massive car bomb explosion in Beruit last February 14, and Lebanese officials were quick to point an accusing finger at Syria. Enough initial evidence existed to trigger the UN investigation and this week phone records made Assad family participation obvious.

To head off the regime change that could result, Saudi Arabia and Egypt have proposed to the US that Assad be allowed to sacrifice his two relatives, renounce terrorism and kick the leaders of several groups out of Damascus, help the US stop the flow of Baathist and al-Qaida men, money, and materiel going from Syria to Iraq, shut down the Hizbollah, and dismantle Syria’s WMD programs. Assad would have to do this publicly and submit to Egyptian and Saudi oversight to insure follow through as a price for staying in office.

There’s a chance that the UN report will name Assad personally, in which case nothing can help him. But his brother and brother-in-law have been pretty much caught red-handed. Some fear that these two relatives, one head of the Presidential Guard Brigade and the other a powerful intelligence operative might be strong enough pull off a coup, something no one wants. So the Saudi Egyptian plan is getting a cautious hearing in Washington.

Dismantling Hizbollah could get rid of over 12,000 missiles currently arrayed along the Lebanese border with Israel and substantially reduce tensions to Israel’s north. It would also give Lebanon a better chance of succeeding at a fresh start following the Syrian military’s recent departure. Of course the Egyptians want a restart of Golan Heights negotiations in return. They’re hoping that by permanently weakening Assad they can persuade Israel to accept a Gaza-like evacuation of the Golan.

Two of these news items involve Iran’s growing belligerency toward both Israel and the West, a trend that will likely continue following the election of its hardliner president. The other one has to do with creating conditions that would help Israel adopt the false sense of peace many commentators believe must precede the Moslem coalition’s attack spoken of in the Ezekiel Prophecy.

That belief is based on two verses. One is Ezekiel 38:8. After many days you will be called to arms. In future years you will invade a land that has recovered from war, whose people were gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel, which had long been desolate. They had been brought out from the nations, and now all of them live in safety.

And the other is Ezekiel 38:11. You will say, “I will invade a land of unwalled villages; I will attack a peaceful and unsuspecting people—all of them living without walls and without gates and bars.

The Hebrew word translated as “safety” in 38:8 is betach (bee tawsh’). So is the word the NIV translates as “unsuspecting” in 38:11. Though safety is its primary meaning, betach can also imply a sense of carelessness and comes from a root meaning trusting or confident. This nuance lends credence to the NIV’s choice of “unsuspecting” in 38:11, as if the Israelis would be saying, “We thought this wasn’t supposed to happen.”

Scholars speculate that some treaty or offer of third party protection will have come into play prior to this invasion that causes Israel to be caught off guard. And since the attack comes from the North, that means they’d come through Lebanon and/or Syria. The idea that outside parties would guarantee Israel’s safety in exchange for relinquishing the Golan isn’t new and has been rejected before. (Having control of the high ground enables Israel to electronically “see” into Lebanon and Syria, giving them advance warning on any possible attacks. Losing the Golan deprives them of some of this capability.) But a seriously weakened Syria and a peaceful Lebanon, divested of their terrorist training camps and forces, could make the trade-off more attractive this time.

Inquiries of the Israeli leadership as to who they’d prefer to have running Syria in the event the UN investigation brings down the current government indicate an acceptance of Assad, as long as he’s “de-clawed.”

It’s obvious something big has to happen to allow Israel to feel safe enough to mirror the thinking of Ezekiel’s time when only those confident of peace with their neighbors would build entire villages outside protective walls and gates. And given the events of the past 50 years, it’s hard to see Israel ever being that lax in seeing to its own defense. But changes come fast these days. Who would’ve predicted even a year ago that Israel would abandon Biblical lands without even asking for anything in return?

Perhaps the US will fall for Egypt and Saudi Arabia’s plan to save Assad and will pledge to guarantee the safety of Israel’s northern boundaries. Lately President Bush seems no less dangerously obsessed with bringing about a Middle East peace at any price than was his predecessor. (Palestinian officials are even saying that he’s told them point blank that God has appointed him to the task, something the White House strongly denies.) Interestingly, a review of nations Ezekiel named as part of the Moslem coalition invading Israel shows that neither Egypt nor Saudi Arabia is among them.

Of course, all this is mere speculation at this point. We know how fluid the situation is there and how quickly the players can change sides. But if we’re as close to the end as it appears, something has to happen soon to set the stage for this future battle.

Aside from the worldwide consequences, why is Ezekiel’s prophecy so important to the Church? First, because it sets in motion a chain of events that culminates in the Second Coming. It’s the official sign that God is once again visibly intervening in the affairs of man to bring about the fulfillment of His End Times Scenario.

At the end of this battle, God calls all the world’s Jews home to Israel to renew His Old Covenant relationship with them, kicking off the last seven years of human history. Immediately they’ll demand a Temple in which to worship Him. The anti-Christ appears on the scene to help them get it, and in the middle of the seven years stands in that Temple to announce that he’s God. This begins the Great Tribulation, at the end of which the Lord returns to establish His Millennial Kingdom on Earth.

But just as importantly, it means that the Age of the Church is over. 2000 years ago as God turned His full attention toward building His church, Israel disappeared from the world scene. Now, as He once again turns His full attention toward Israel, the Church must disappear. The nearness of Ezekiel’s prophesied battle indicates that the Rapture of the Church is even closer. If you listen closely, you can almost hear the footsteps of the Messiah. 10-09-05