Ezekiel 38 And The War In Lebanon
Commentary by Jack Kelley
(This commentary assumes that you're familiar with Ezekiel 38-39. If not, I've included links to my newly updated verse-by-verse study at the end.)
Iran's refusal to curtail their development of nuclear power in continued defiance of UN directives, their blatant and gleeful admission of having assisted Hezbollah in the recent war with Israel, their rush to re-arm the Lebanese terrorists with even better weaponry, and their frequent statements about wiping Israel off the map have observers more worried than ever. To many it seems like Israel's situation is more perilous than if they had just ignored the kidnapping of their soldiers.
And the Moslem world is absolutely euphoric over Hezbollah's performance, finally believing that Israel can be defeated. Every Moslem country in the Middle East is studying the details of the war. They'll quickly use what they learn to modify their own strategies to make victory over Israel more likely.
Meanwhile the Israeli government is bordering on meltdown with only 29% of the population believing that PM Olmert and his team are fit to remain in office. From several points along the political and religious spectrum we hear the warning cry, "Get ready for Ezekiel 38!"
Are We There Yet?
But can this battle take place yet, or is our concern premature?
Comparing the Bible to current events, we can conclude that three impediments to an early fulfillment remain to be overcome.
Persia, Cush and Put will be with them, all with shields and helmets, also Gomer with all its troops, and Beth Togarmah from the far north with all its troops-the many nations with you. (Ezekiel 38:5-6) The first concerns the reference to Beth Togarmah in this passage. Persia stands for Iran, while Cush and Put are the countries of North Africa. Gomer was a son of Japeth, one of Noah's three sons, who settled Eastern Europe along the Danube. Togarmah was a son of Gomer's who turned to the East. The Armenians of today call themselves the House of Togarmah. The Turks (but not the Kurds, who are the ancient Medes of Media-Persia fame) are also included in Togarmah's family tree. Today, all these countries are united by their religion, Islam.
Turkey is a member of NATO, has applied for membership in the European Union, and has a number of important military and economic treaties with Israel. But Turkey also has an overwhelmingly Moslem population. Only its military leadership and national government are secular and pro-west. Most observers feel it's only a matter of time until Turkey turns away from its western leanings and lines up with its Moslem brothers removing the first impediment.
Next is the intent of 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. Verse 8 makes it clear that this verse is intended to describe Israel, and also indicates that at the time of the attack, Israel will be living in safety. Living in safety, walls of protection down, peaceful and unsuspecting. When in its 56 year history has that ever described Israel? In spite of having decisively beaten back 5 consecutive attempts by the Moslem world to defeat them, Israel has never known a single day of peace. Allies and enemies alike have always intervened to prevent Israel from achieving the conclusive victory their forces could have easily had, forcing them to leave their opponents bloodied but not beaten, able to regroup and fight another day.
If Winning Hasn't Worked, How About Losing?
Maybe the time has come for prophecy students to stop looking for a time when Israel is so strong that it can afford to relax, but instead look for a time when Israel is weak enough to entrust its security to others. If so such a time might be in the making now.
Recent reports coming from Europe indicate that there's a growing sense of resolve surrounding the deployment of UNIFIL troops in Lebanon. First, being sponsored by the UN instead of NATO means that neither the US nor Israel will have any real influence over their deployment. And since UN head Kofi Anan has specifically excluded disarming Hezbollah from their mandate the number of troops being committed is growing.
As a practical matter these troops will actually be shielding Hezbollah from any interference by Israel while they re-arm, so no resistance to their deployment is expected from Iran. And since Israeli officials are aggressively pressuring the UN to put them in place so Israeli soldiers can come home, it appears that Israel sees them as the means to ensure peace in the North, possibly thinking that Hezbollah won't want to push through them to get to Israel.
But according to DEBKAfile, Europe's newfound enthusiasm goes way beyond that. Some European leaders are suggesting that UNIFIL troops could easily be morphed into the military arm of the EU, serving under a combined European Command. There's talk of inserting UNIFIL troops into the Gaza area to separate Israeli troops from Hamas if the Lebanon experiment works. Some are even suggesting that by deploying UNIFIL forces in Iraq to create a buffer, the US departure from there could be hastened.
European leaders like these ideas because it gives them a leg up over the US in accomplishing for the Middle East that the US has been unable to do, and it would give them unparalleled influence in the region.
To students of prophecy who know that Europe has no love for Israel or the US, it looks like a way to bring a false peace to the region, setting Israel up for Ezekiel's battle.
Got Anything Else?
Meanwhile Iran is pressing forward on other fronts, all designed to remove the last impediment to Ezekiel 38. Of course that's the threat of massive retaliation by Israel's foremost ally.
Iran's meddling in Iraq is designed to weaken the US militarily, thinking that since we probably lack the resolve to use non-conventional means, driving us out of Iraq like Ho Chi Minh drove us out of Viet Nam is a real possibility. Iran's efforts to establish a competitive world market for oil and gas are for the purpose of creating an economic disaster, knowing that a switch from the Dollar to the Euro as the world's reserve currency would soon turn us into a third world economy. And of course there's always the threat of a massive terrorist attack, to which we're particularly vulnerable. Though we're by far the world's strongest power, our position on the top of the heap is becoming more precarious by the day.
And let's not forget that God may have a surprise or two in store for us, too. One of the fastest and most dramatic ways to sideline the US would be to pull the Church out of the world. Suppose a number of our most senior elected and appointed leaders, who knows how many top and mid level staffers, thousands of military, business and community leaders, and millions of productive consumers suddenly disappeared without explanation. What would those left be willing or able to do to fend off a threat to Israel?
Or suppose this whole train of thought is wrong, and Iran decides to attack Israel in spite of our retaliatory capabilities? The President of Iran has said that he's been called to bring chaos into the world and that he wouldn't hesitate to expose his own people to destruction in order to hasten the arrival of the Mahdi. Of course the US would respond if the Church was still here, and maybe God would use our weaponry to bring fire upon Israel's enemies.(Ezekiel 39:6) If so they would certainly return the favor.
The point of all this is that the Times of the Gentiles are fast coming to a close. I have no doubt that our days are numbered, and our number is about up. The outcome of their war with Lebanon has left Israel politically and militarily weakened like never before in the past 56 years, and the enemy smells blood. The US didn't save them and they didn't save themselves. And only a handful of liberals in Israel believe that Europe will save them. That leaves only God. And that means that we in the Church had better be packed and ready. And we'd better make that last great effort to gather our wayward loved ones into the fold before it's too late. If you listen carefully, you can almost hear the footsteps of the Messiah 08-26-06