Is the Middle East Headed for a Major War?
“They have said, ‘Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation, that the name of Israel may be remembered no more.’ For they have consulted together with one consent; they form a confederacy against You: The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites; Moab and the Hagrites; Gebal, Ammon and Amalek; Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre; Assyria also has joined with them.” (Psalm 83:4-8)
|The Psalm 83 confederates, as identified by Bill Salus in his book “Psalm 83: The Missing Prophecy Revealed.”
Interestingly, the confederacy appears to comprise Israel’s immediate surrounding and hostile Muslim Arab neighbors, including prominent terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah, who presently express the same hateful attitude toward Israel as described in Psalm 83!
The rest of the Psalm (verses 9-18) is a prayer for Israel’s victory. In Psalm 83:9-11, the defeat of the Arab confederacy is compared to Israel’s past victories in Judges 4-8, which permanently ended oppression from the Midianites and Canaanites. This suggests that once the confederates in Psalm 83 are defeated, they will no longer oppress Israel.
Psalm 83: A Pending Prophecy
Some prophetic scholars argue that Psalm 83 represents nothing more than an imprecatory prayer of lament concerning Israel’s historical enemies. However, this perspective overlooks the fact that Israel had many more enemies than the ten nations listed in verses 6-8, while also missing the very specific details and habitation conditions in this prophecy (e.g., Psalm 83:8 indicates that one member of the confederacy actually needs assistance in the battle).
Others argue that Israel’s 1948 or 1967 wars fulfilled this prophecy. Yet, in 1948, more nations were involved than those listed in the Psalm; and the tents (refugees or military encampments) of Edom, mentioned in Psalm 83:6, only came into existence in the aftermath of this war. While it’s possible that the 1967 conflict fulfilled the prophecy, none of the attacking nations in 1967 ceased to permanently oppress Israel, nor did any of them turn to Yahweh as their God (Ps. 83:18).
Since Psalm 83 appears to be a prophetic psalm and the conflict it describes has never fully occurred in history, we can understand that some future war will fulfill it. In fact, many see the Psalm 83 war as a prelude to the Gog-Magog war described in Ezekiel 38-39, where Russia and a coalition of mostly Islamic nations launch an invasion of Israel.
- The Gog-Magog confederacy in Ezekiel 38:1-6 does not comprise any Arab states sharing a border with Israel, even though these are the most conspicuous enemies of Israel today. The fact that the Ezekiel invaders would have to cross over what is now largely Arab-controlled areas suggests that Israel’s adversaries may have already been dealt with or defeated.
None of the Psalm 83 confederates are listed in Ezekiel 38:1-6, despite being mentioned in other parts of the book.
- The Gog-Magog war is expected to occur when Israel is dwelling “securely” and “without walls” (Ezek. 38:8,11). Today, Israel relies on a 430-mile-long, 25-foot-high wall to deter terrorists, and it is not dwelling securely (yashab betach in Hebrew). It’s important to note that yashab betach does not imply confidence in one’s military defense capabilities but rather security through military victory, based on its historical biblical usage. Ezekiel 28:26 states Israel “will dwell securely [yashab betach], when I [God] execute judgments on all those around them who despise them.”