Remember Hezbollah? Back in 1983 it was the perpetrator of the truck bomb murder of 241 US Marine peacekeepers while they were sleeping in their Beirut barracks. Hezbollah soon became a state within the state of Lebanon — flexing its terrorist muscles with impunity. So much so that the UN finally passed Resolution 1559 requiring the disbanding and disarming of Hezbollah. Of course, Lebanon never did this.
In June, Hezbollah initiated a terrorist raid into Israel killing members of an Israeli army patrol and kidnapping two Israeli soldiers. This was nothing new, but enough was enough. Israel demanded the return of their kidnapped soldiers alive and a withdrawal of Hezbollah’s highly sophisticated military bases from southern Lebanon. Hezbollah refused. Tired of waiting for the enforcement of UN Resolution 1559 requiring the disbanding and disarming of Hezbollah, Israel took the role of the enforcer. Israel’s surgical bombing of Hezbollah’s civilian-shielded bunkers began. After a week, ground troops attacked Hezbollah’s strategic rocket-launching sites that were raining havoc on northern Israel. Another Israeli-Arab war had begun. Hezbollah’s rockets were solely targeting the Israeli civilian population, whereas Israeli bombing targeted Hezbollah sites that were bunkered under civilian structures surrounded by civilian occupied buildings.
After the death of Mohammed in AD 633, the Arab armies swarmed out of the Arabian Peninsula, pushing westward in North Africa to the Atlantic Ocean and eastward to India. Consequently, there are now 52 Arab states. Additionally, there are Moslem nations like Turkey and Iran that have a large minority of Arabs.
But, a very special portion of land in the Middle East was spared Arab domination — the land of Israel. Israel had been a disobedient people. Therefore, in AD 70 God permitted the Roman army to temporarily disburse His people from their land during a “double” period (1845 years) of punishment. The land of Israel was to remain relatively sparse of population — “desolate of man and beast.” Jeremiah 16:13-18; 33:10. After the “double” ended in 1878, Jews were miraculously permitted to return to their land. Finally the UN partition vote granted them the opportunity to establish an independent state in 1948. The Arabs would have none of this. Armies of six Arab nations stormed the newborn Israeli State. Outnumbered 600 to 1, God gave the victory to Israel. Three more wars followed. Miracles happened. Israel won each war. Why?
Psalm 83 appears to describe an ongoing conflict between Israel and the Arabs that will climax in a final war in which Israel will win a decisive victory over the Arabs. Psalm 83 is a prayer in which Israel asked the Lord for deliverance from a group of nations that verses 3-5 show are united in a confederacy or league for one purpose — the destruction of the nation of Israel. In the 1950s the Arab League of Nations was actually formed. It united the Arab nations together for the very purpose of the destruction of Israel.
Verse 6 mentions some of these nations. Bible scholars and historians agree that ancient Israel was never confronted by such an elaborate alliance of nations, namely, Ishmaelites, Edom, Ammon, Amalek, Hagarenes, Gebal and the Philistines. Therefore, this prophecy must have an end-time fulfillment. These Old Testament territories are in modern times the nations of Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Syria.
Obviously the Philistines represent the Palestinians. Edom, Moab, and Ammon occupied what is the modern state of Jordan. Gebal is Lebanon (Joshua 13:5,6.) Iraq was populated by the Hagarenes or Hagarites that dwelt east of Gilead in the wilderness of the River Euphrates (1 Chronicles 5:1,9,10.) The Ishmaelites settled what is today Saudi Arabia and Ishmael’s eldest son, Nabajoth, is identified with Syria.
Lebanon (Gebal) and Tyre play a prominent role in Psalm 83. Hezbollah is headquartered in Tyre which has been heavily attacked by Israel’s army in this current war. Back in the 1970s the PLO had 6,000 Palestinian terrorists in southern Lebanon creating havoc in Galilee, northern Israel. Thousands more Palestinians were amassed in the environs of Tyre where Arafat was headquartered.
Finally on June 6, 1982, in “Operation Peace of Galilee” the Israeli army invaded Lebanon and pushed the Palestinians back to Tyre. Israel was ready to take Arafat and the upper echelon of PLO leaders captive. But something incredible happened. Bewildered and bitterly disappointed Israel watched as the US Navy intervened and gave Arafat and his henchmen safe passage to Tunis. Meanwhile US Marines were stationed in Beirut to keep the peace. That’s when Hezbollah, a new Shiite terrorist group, murdered the US Marines. This caught the eye of Iran, the theological center for Shiite Moslems. Through Syria, Iran bankrolled and provided the military might for Hezbollah.
The Israeli army retreated to southern Lebanon where it maintained a buffer zone to prevent terrorist attacks on northern Israel. Syria and Iran have been transforming Hezbollah into a highly professional army with some of Russia’s most sophisticated rockets, anti-tank missiles and other Russian weapons. Hezbollah soldiers, rocket launchers and weapons are bunkered down in civilian population centers throughout southern Lebanon. If Israel becomes a threat to Iran, it is Hezbollah’s job to take on Israel. As Hezbollah increased in military might, it harassed Israel’s buffer zone demanding that Israel withdraw from southern Lebanon.Four Israeli mothers who lost sons in the conflict with Hezbollah started the “Four Mothers in Black” campaign for the removal of all Israeli troops from southern Lebanon. A majority of Israeli public concurred. In 2000 Labor Prime Minister Barak withdrew all Israeli troops from Lebanon, naively thinking Hezbollah would be satisfied. It was not. Hezbollah rockets continued to hit Israel. The international community did nothing to enforce UN Resolution 1559. Nothing! Ariel Sharon made the same mistake in the Gaza unilateral withdrawal. Now PLO / Hamas rockets are being fired from Gaza all over southern Israel.
This current Lebanese war is difficult. Why? Hezbollah’s army was inspired, trained and armed by Iran. Still for many it is disappointing. Even if Israel finally wins, it will have suffered heavy losses. Never before was Israel’s civilian population so devastated. Why isn’t the Lord giving Israel a decisive victory as in the past? Perhaps this is the Lord’s way of teaching Israel not to give up land the Lord permitted them to gain. After all, He did promise Israel most of Lebanon up to Hamath. Some feel the least Israel could have done was keep part of southern Lebanon for a security zone.
Added to this sad outlook is the prospect that the current Israeli Government leadership has expressed the position that this war is impetus to carry our further withdrawals. That would mean more dismantling of communities within the historic heartland of Israel—Judea and Samaria (commonly called the West Bank). The unilateral “convergence plan’ would further strip Israelis from their Biblical roots and raise more questions about the security of distance which legitimate control of Judea and Samaria offer the State of Israel.
The ongoing Israeli-Arab conflict will eventually culminate in a complete victory for Israel. The prayer of Psalm 83 will be answered by the Lord. Israel will take back any land given up. Additionally, she will acquire parts of Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and all of Gaza. Isaiah 11:14; Zephaniah 2:3-10; Zechariah 10:10; Obadiah 19-20 (NIV).
A final comment on Psalm 83. Verse 8 ASV. “Assyria also is joined with them; They have helped the children of Lot.” Assyria could refer to Iraq; however, verse 6 identified the Hagarenes as symbolizing Iraq. Assyria is used in many Israel end-time prophecies to symbolize Russia. For example Micah 5:5, and Zechariah 10:10. The Greek word for helped literally means strong arm which could symbolize military help. When Russia was a super-power vying with the US for world supremacy it supplied the Arab nations with military hardware. Why? So the Arabs could defeat Israel, the US ally, leaving Russia the dominant force in the oil rich Middle East. In the early 1990s, Russia on the verge of bankruptcy toppled as a world power. Economics have changed. Russia once again is aspiring to attain world supremacy. Russia is not only arming Iran but in fulfillment of Psalm 83 is once again the strong arm of the Arab nations.
Many televangelists are heralding the invasion of Gog, Ezekiel 38, as the next prophetic step in the Middle East. But the Scriptures indicate the above-mentioned decisive Israeli-Arab war must first be fought. Then Israel will enjoy a short period of peace and security. Ezekiel 38:11. After this Ezekiel 38 will occur—an invasion by Russia allied with a group of nations including Iran (Persia). Iran never seems to give up, but Iran will finally learn not to oppose Israel. God will fight for Israel as in the days of old, and Christ’s Kingdom will be established in Jerusalem and encircle the globe. Ezekiel 38, 39 and Zechariah 14. The ultimate boundaries of Israel as defined in Genesis 15:18 will be acquired after Christ’s Kingdom is fully set up.
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Baruch atem b'Shem, Yeshua