Turmoil in the Middle East
Israel vs. the Arab Nations
IF IRANIAN PRESIDENT MAHMOUD AHMAdinejad becomes the supreme decision maker in his country, he said that he would “sacrifice half of Iran for the sake of eliminating Israel.” If Ahmadinijad succeeds current leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenie—which he has a reasonable chance of doing—Israel will be in a highly dangerous position.
Gloria Eiland, Israel’s former national security adviser, told the Jerusalem Post in August that the 49-year-old president “has a religious conviction that Israel’s demise is essential to the restoration of Muslim glory, that the Zionist thorn in the heart of the Islamic nations must be removed. And he will pay almost any price to right the perceived historic wrong.”
Fight Over Israel Is Not About Land
Israel’s current population of 7.1 million is dwarfed by Iran’s current population of 69.4 million, as it is by most of its neighbors.
It is easy to see that today’s conflict between Israel and the surrounding Arab countries is not about land!
Dramatic Changes in the Middle East
The Middle East has seen dramatic changes in leadership over the past five years and these have shown less respect for Israel’s right to its land. New leaders in Jordan, Morocco, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Iran were not part of previous Arab conflicts with Israel. Ariel Sharon, former prime minister of Israel, was the last leader in the Middle East to have been defined by the 1948 War of Independence.
The current conflict began when Hizbullah, the Arab-supported terrorist organization based in Beirut, killed eight and captured two Israeli soldiers on July 12 on the Lebanese border and launched rockets into Israel. Unfortunately Israel received worldwide reproach for civilian casualties in cities where Hizbullah fighters shielded themselves among their own people. Israel agreed to a cease fire without getting back its soldiers or destroying Hizbullah’s ability to strike inside Israel’s borders.
Current reports suggest that local terror groups are working with Hizbullah to smuggle heavy weaponry and rockets into the Gaza Strip in preparation for a large-scale confrontation with Israel.
With Israel’s seeming defeat, Iran’s Ahmadinejad believes he has the opportunity to “finish what Hitler started and wipe the Jewish people off the map.”
Conflict Rooted in Antiquity
When Hagar and Ishmael were exiled by Abraham, they went to Paran in eastern Sinai (Genesis 25:18). Ishmael’s descendants became nomadic merchants such as the Bedouins. Genesis 16:12 says that Ishmael’s descendants also became the desert people.
Scripture records constant conflict between these two groups, beginning with Numbers chapter 20. Moses had led the children of Israel out of Egypt and had camped at Kadesh for some years. Following the death of Miriam and a rebellion by the people, God told Moses to move the people eastward but not harm the inhabitants of the land.
Moses pleaded with the king of Edom to allow the children of Israel to pass through the land of Seir, southeast of the Dead Sea, on the way to Canaan. The Edomites refused and Israel went around the land. Later, Israel conquered the Edomites, but their enmity has never ceased.
Should Israel Have Given Away Land?
In 2005, Israel handed over all of Gaza and part of the West Bank to the Palestinians. It became the first country in modern history to give up land acquired in a defensive war. God told Israel: “I will fix your boundary from the Red Sea to the sea of the Philistines, and from the wilderness to the River Euphrates: for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you will drive them out before you. You shall make no covenant with them or with their gods. They shall not live in your land.” (Exodus 23:31-33) Israel was ordered by God to not surrender any of its promised land to others; now it appears to be suffering the consequences of ignoring this command.
Psalm 83 describes the continuous conflict between Israel and the Arabs since the first encounter of Moses with the king of Edom. The ancient peoples mentioned by the psalmist resided in areas where Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq, Syria, and southern Lebanon are located today. One other group, the Philistines, lived mainly along the coastal plain in the area of the modern Gaza Strip. There is no validity to the claim by Palestinians of their descent from this group. There is also no evidence that such an alliance as described here was ever formed previously.
The modern situation seems to be described beginning in verse 4 of this psalm. Israel’s neighbors say, “Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance.” In these last days the common bond that unites these surrounding nations in their hatred of Israel is their Islamic religion. This is a modern development, only existing since the seventh century A.D., long after this psalm was written.
Since 1948, the Arab nations have four times attempted to cooperate to eliminate Israel. Each time Israel has prevailed. However, one Arab leader after another has clearly stated that the only way of gaining peace in the Middle East is by the total annihilation of Israel as a nation.
Conflict May Continue Until Kingdom
The prophet Amos articulated this promise from God: “I will restore the captivity of My people Israel … I will also plant them on their land, and they will not again be rooted out from their land which I have given them, says the LORD your God” (Amos 9:14,15).
In 2006, Israel’s Jewish population grew to over 5.6 million, surpassing the 5.2 million in the U.S. For the first time since 135 A.D. there are more Jews in Israel than any other country on earth.
If the Arabs put down their weapons today, there would be no more war. If Israel put down its weapons today, there would be no more Israel. However, Isaiah 11:14 indicates that eventually Israel will defeat the Arabs that seek to destroy them. Whether this occurs prior to the time of the descent of Gog and Magog upon Israel mentioned in Ezekiel 38 is an open question among students of prophecy. However, whenever this occurs, we may confidently expect the kingdom to be fully established soon after.