Pastor Bill Hoganson – [email protected]
We are now witnessing increased military strikes by Israel against Iranian proxies located in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Gaza. With what’s now happening, one may wonder if the so-called Psalm 83 battle is near. Perhaps you are unfamiliar with Psalm 83’s prayer concerning Israel’s conflict with the “surrounding” nations. If so, you may want to read this article.
In recent years, very good Bible prophecy students have been fussing among themselves over the nature and meaning of Psalm 83. The fuss is primarily over whether, or not, Psalm 83 concerns an actual military battle between Israel and the surrounding nations. Some students believe that Psalm 83 lays the foundation for Israel becoming a Super State that will dominate the region. And, all of this is to take place “before” the Tribulation. Is this a solid, Biblical view? Let’s check it out.
So, the current on-going debate is over whether Psalm 83 is simply
1) an imprecatory prayer,
2) and/or a prophecy that has already been fulfilled,
3) and/or a prophecy waiting to be fulfilled. These three views can be summarised as follows:
1) Psalm 83 is an Imprecatory Prayer: This view holds that Psalm 83 is “only” a prayer, and not a prophecy, written around 1000 BC by Asaph, King David’s chief musician (1 Chr. 16:5-7). Asaph’s prayer implores God to deal harshly with the surrounding nations that had been attacking Israel over the previous four hundred years (cf Judges).
2) Psalm 83 had a “past” fulfillment – two basic views are summarised, as follow:
Psalm 83 is prophetic prayer that was already fulfilled in the “ancient” past. This view claims King Jehoshaphat’s army defeated the surrounding Psalm 83 nations in the 9th Century BC (2 Chron. 20).
b. Still, others believe Psalm 83 was fulfilled in 1948 when Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Iraq invaded Israel. They claim all “ten” Psalm 83 people groups, described in Psalm 83, are connected to the 1948 Arab nation’s invasion.
3) Psalm 83 is awaiting “future” fulfilment – two basic views are summarised, as follows:
Psalm 83 will be fulfilled when the Ezekiel 38-39 Russian Coalition invades Israel during the Tribulation. This view claims Ezekiel 38:6’s use of the phrase “many people are with you” is conclusive evidence that the “ten” Psalm 83 people groups are included in the Russian Coalition.
This next view lines up with the one identified in the opening paragraph, claiming that Psalm 83 is an actual battle that is to be understood in the context of many O.T. prophecies still awaiting fulfilment, including Ezekiel 25:14; Zephaniah 2:9; Zechariah 12:6; Obadiah 17-18; Isaiah 11:14 and 19:16-18; Isaiah 17 (in conjunction with (Jeremiah 49:23-27). All these Scriptures have one thing in common: they all support the idea of Israel having an “exceedingly great army” (Ezk. 37:10) which will, directly or indirectly, defeat and take control of the “surrounding” nations turning Israel into a Super State. (Bill Salus popularised this view in his book “Israelestine.” View 3b., presented here, is similar to his book, but with a slightly different spin.)
In any case, let’s now consider the Biblical efficacy of each of these views…
Which of the above Views best Fits Israel’s “Last Days” Scenario?
Psalm 83 as an Imprecatory Prayer View
It is true that Psalm 83 is a prayer; however, this view ignores the following:
1) Asaph was a prophet (2 Chr. 29:30—seer),
2) the Psalms can be prophetic (e.g., Psa. 2, 16, 22, etc.), and
3) God will answer Asaph’s prayer. Psalm 83 can be both a prayer and a prophecy that God can, and will, answer and fulfil.
Psalm 83 had a “Past” fulfilment View
View 2a. teaches that 2 Chronicles 20 fulfilled Psalm 83 in the ancient past. It sounds good, but it doesn’t line up with Psalm 83. How so? At most, only six people groups can be counted there, while Psalm 83 identifies ten people groups. So, they don’t match up…
View 2b. teaches Psalm 83 was fulfilled in 1948, which is on the right track, but it falls short in at least four areas, as follows:
1) Today, the people groups that invaded Israel in 1948 (Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Iraq) continue to seek Israel’s destruction, so that “the name of Israel be remembered no more” (Psa. 83:4), suggesting Psalm 83 is still open for fulfilment. Egypt and Jordan currently have a peace agreement with Israel, but, for how long; especially since their majorities hate Israel?
2) The same 1948 Arab nations continue to push for a Palestinian State, even quoting Psalm 83, saying, “let us take for ourselves [for the Palestinians] the pastures of God for a possession” (Psa. 83:11). On this point, Psalm 83 remains unfulfilled.
3) Asaph’s prayer that the “ten” Psalm 83 people groups be destroyed “as fire burns the woods, and as the flame sets the mountains on fire (Psa. 83:14)” still needs God’s answer. And
4) Today, these same 1948 nations reject the LORD God, thus, leaving Asaph’s prayer unanswered (Psa. 83:16-18).
On the surface, View 2b. sounds good. But to claim that the 1948 Arab invasion of Israel, by itself, fulfils the Psalm 83 prophecy, is insufficient, still lacking fulfilment as demonstrated above.
Psalm 83 is awaiting “Future” fulfilment View
View 3a. – to conclude that the “ten” Psalm 83 people groups are found in the phrase “”many people are with you (Ezk 38:6)” is going way too far! This vague and inferential conclusion stretches itself into a non-sequitur. Yes, it is true that inference is used in the other views, but not to this presumptive degree.
View 3b. raises interesting points. Israel’s powerful military does play a major literal role in the “last days” as seen in the listed O.T. verses under 3b. on page 1.
We will spend the remainder of this article on View 3b, by analysing the future role of Israel’s powerful military in Bible prophecy.
What Role does Israel’s Military Play in the “Last Days?”
Israel’s military play a “significant” role in the last days, but “when” does Israel’s military have a role?
Zechariah describes Israel’s military role in the “last days” when the “surrounding” nations seek to take control of Jerusalem, as follows: Zechariah 12:2 (NKJV) – “Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem.” Jerusalem will come under attack by the “surrounding” nations.
And then we read in Zechariah 12:6 (NKJV) –
“In that day I will make the governors of Judah like a firepan in the woodpile, and like a fiery torch in the sheaves; they shall devour all the surrounding peoples on the right hand and on the left, but Jerusalem shall be inhabited…”
Notice, the “surrounding” nations will fail to take control of Jerusalem, why? Israel’s powerful military will “devour” them.
So, at this point, it is Israel’s powerful military that defeats the “surrounding” nations.
But later, Israel’s powerful military is absent, as follows: Zechariah 14:2 (NKJV) –
“For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem; The city shall be taken, The houses rifled, And the women ravished. Half of the city shall go into captivity, But the remnant of the people shall not be cut off from the city.”
What happened to Israel’s powerful military? They were present in Zechariah 12, but they are no longer present in Zechariah 14. Don’t bail out on this article now. Please keep reading…
Israel does have powerful military that defeats the “surrounding” nations in the “last days.” But, when do they defeat the “surrounding” nations? Consider the following:
#1 “After” the Tribulation
#2 “During” the Tribulation
#3 “Before” the Tribulation
#1 – “After” the Tribulation View – this view can be rejected forthright because Isaiah tells us that after Jesus comes “neither shall they learn war anymore” (Isa. 2:4). There will be no need for armies during the Millennium.
#2 – “During” the Tribulation View: Many good prophecy students “assume” that Israel’s “exceedingly great army” will exist “during” the Tribulation (Rev. 6-19). However, Israel’s powerful military is absent when Jerusalem is overrun (Zec. 14:2). Where did they go? In fact, Revelation 6 -19 provides no hint that Israel’s powerful military even exists. Certainly, Israel will have underground Jewish militias (Zech. 14:14), but there is no indication in Revelation 6-19 that Israel has a powerful IDF-like military.
Revelation 6-19 reveals that Israel’s Jews will be delivered from their enemies in four ways, as follows:
1) Israel will be delivered by God’s “two witnesses” during the Tribulation’s first 3½ years (Rev. 11:3-6)
2) Many Jews are delivered from Antichrist forces by fleeing out of Judea into the wilderness (Matt. 24:15-16), where God will supernaturally protect them during the Tribulation’s final 3½ years (Rev. 12:14-17)
3) After Jerusalem is captured, Jewish underground militias (Zech. 14:2, 14) will attempt to deliver Israel. But they will fail! Two-thirds of the Jews will die (Zech. 13:8), mostly during the latter half of the Tribulation
4) In the end, Jesus Himself will deliver the Jews after a majority finally recognise Jesus as their Messiah. They will cry out to Him “blessed is He that comes in the name of the LORD” (Matt. 23:39). Jesus responds “delivering” them from their enemies, and all Israel will be saved (Rom. 11:26-29; Rev. 19:11-21).
It is clear in Revelation 6-19 that Israel’s Jews do not rely on a powerful IDF-like military to deliver them from Satan’s wrath. It is safe to assume that Israel’s military is absent during the entire seven-year Tribulation. At the very least, Israel’s powerful military is absent during the Tribulation’s final 3½ years.
The “Before” the Tribulation View: This view has that greatest Scriptural support. Multiple unfulfilled O.T. prophecies are in the process of coming to pass before our very eyes. The majority of these O.T. prophecies require that Israel have a powerful IDF-like military. Let’s get into it…
Multiple O.T. prophecies require that Israel have a powerful IDF-like military in the “last days.” Check out the following yet-to-be-fulfilled prophecies requiring Israel to have a powerful military in the “last days”:
Isaiah 11:14 (NKJV) – “But they [Israel] shall fly down upon the shoulder of the Philistines toward the west [Gaza]; Together they shall plunder the people of the East [Syria]; They shall lay their hand on Edom and Moab [Jordan]; And the people of Ammon [Jordan] shall obey them.
Zephaniah 2:9 (NKJV) – Therefore, as I live,” Says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, “Surely Moab shall be like Sodom, And the people of Ammon like Gomorrah- Overrun with weeds and saltpits, And a perpetual desolation. The residue of My people shall plunder them, And the remnant of My people shall possess them.”
Zechariah 12:6 (NKJV) – In that day I will make the governors of Judah like a firepan in the woodpile, and like a fiery torch in the sheaves; they shall devour all the surrounding peoples on the right hand and on the left, but Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place-
Obadiah 18 (NKJV) – “The house of Jacob shall be a fire, And the house of Joseph a flame; But the house of Esau shall be stubble; They shall kindle them and devour them, And no survivor shall remain of the house of Esau,” For the LORD has spoken.
Ezekiel 25:14 (NKJV) – “I will lay My vengeance on Edom by the hand of My people Israel, that they may do in Edom according to My anger and according to My fury; and they shall know My vengeance,” says the Lord GOD.
Today, Israel’s powerful military continues to defeat and hold off the “surrounding” nations, keeping them from driving them into the Sea. However, many of the above O.T. prophecies are still awaiting fulfilment. How so? Israel has yet to take control of the surrounding nations.
Let’s just take one example of the above unfulfilled prophesies. Consider Isaiah 11:14 (NKJV)
“But they [Israel] shall fly down upon the shoulder of the Philistines toward the west; Together they shall plunder the people of the East; They shall lay their hand on Edom and Moab; And the people of Ammon shall obey them.”
This prophecy has never been fulfilled. How so? In context, verse 14 is to be fulfilled “after” Israel comes back to the LAND a second time (Isa. 11:11). Israel’s Jews came back to the LAND the “first time” beginning in 537 BC under Zerubabbel and Joshua. The Jews came back to the LAND a “second time” during the 20th Century, becoming a nation in 1948. Verse 14 will be fulfilled “after” 1948, when Israel is back in the LAND for a second time. Is the stage being set for fulfilment of this prophecy now? Let’s take a look…
Isaiah 11:14 can be broken down into three parts, as follows:
1) Firstly, we are told that Israel will “swoop down on the shoulder of the Philistines…” The “shoulder” of the Philistines describes the location of their power, which is the same location as today’s Gaza Strip. Israel will “fly down” upon the Gaza Strip like a bird swoops down on its prey to devour. Is Israel about to “swoop down” upon Gaza to bring it under military control, perhaps setting up military garrisons to be used in the same way Jewish settlers were used prior to 2005?
2) Secondly, verse 14 tells us Israel will “plunder” the “peoples of the east.” The “peoples of the east” includes Syria (cf Gen. 29:1; Num. 23:7). Israel will “plunder” Syria. Perhaps, the Isaiah 17:1 prophecy fits here, when Damascus becomes “a heap of ruins, a city no more.” After plundering Syria, perhaps Israel will set up garrisons, much like King David did (2 Sam. 8:6). Is Israel on the verge of plundering Syria?
3) Thirdly, verse 14 tells us that Israel will “lay their hand on Edom and Moab (Jordan)” and “the people of Ammon (Jordan) shall obey them.” It appears Israel takes control of Jordan, in the same way David took control of the Edomites, by setting up military garrisons there (2 Sam. 8:14). On a side note: during the Tribulation, a Jordanian puppet government to Israel allows Jewish “fugitives” to “take refuge” in Petra/Sela (Isa. 16:1-4), apparently after the Antichrist invades the region (Dan. 11:41).
Is Isaiah 11:14 just one of the many O.T. Scriptures that describe what may be an answer to Asaph’s Psalm 83 prayer? If so, then Israel may very well be on its way to becoming a Super State—-which appears not to be too far off in the future!
God bless you as you seek Him… Pastor Bill Hoganson
PSA. 83:0 A SONG OR PSALM OF ASAPH.
Psa. 83:1 Keep not thou silence, O God: hold not thy peace, and be not still, O God.
Psa. 83:2 For, lo, thine enemies make a tumult: and they that hate thee have lifted up the head.
Psa. 83:3 They have taken crafty counsel against thy people, and consulted against thy hidden ones.
Psa. 83:4 They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance.
Psa. 83:5 For they have consulted together with one consent: they are confederate against thee:
Psa. 83:6 The tabernacles of Edom, and the Ishmaelites; of Moab, and the Hagarenes;
Psa. 83:7 Gebal, and Ammon, and Amalek; the Philistines with the inhabitants of Tyre;
Psa. 83:8 Assur also is joined with them: they have holpen the children of Lot. Selah.
Psa. 83:9 Do unto them as unto the Midianites; as to Sisera, as to Jabin, at the brook of Kison:
Psa. 83:10 Which perished at Endor: they became as dung for the earth.
Psa. 83:11 Make their nobles like Oreb, and like Zeeb: yea, all their princes as Zebah, and as Zalmunna:
Psa. 83:12 Who said, Let us take to ourselves the houses of God in possession.
Psa. 83:13 O my God, make them like a wheel; as the stubble before the wind.
Psa. 83:14 As the fire burneth a wood, and as the flame setteth the mountains on fire;
Psa. 83:15 So persecute them with thy tempest, and make them afraid with thy storm.
Psa. 83:16 Fill their faces with shame; that they may seek thy name, O LORD.
Psa. 83:17 Let them be confounded and troubled for ever; yea, let them be put to shame, and perish:
Psa. 83:18 That men may know that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the most high over all the earth