116. Hezekiah’s Passover. Isaiah’s Silence.

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Passover in Jerusalem today. The gathering for the priestly blessing.

The first ever Passover, that is the real substantial one, after which all others were symbolic and emblematic of, took place by the light of the silvery full moon on the 14th-15th day of Nisan in the Jewish calendar (Exodus 12). It was consumed overnight, immediately after which Moses and the two million or so children of Israel marched eastward, out of the land of Egypt. It was held the following year exactly 12 months later (Numbers 9). We are not told of any such feast being held during the rest of the 39 years wilderness wondering. How strange is that! I suppose it is vaguely possible that they held Passover 39 times without it even being mentioned in scripture – but I doubt it very much. This historic, earth shattering and destiny pointing emancipation from oppression and captivity was not remembered nor celebrated again until Moses had died and Israel was under Joshua’s headship (Joshua 5:10-11).

 

Thereafter, concerning the Passover, there is silence for centuries. It’s hard to grasp isn’t it?

 

We hear nothing further about Passover during the epoch of the Judges, the era Saul, the ages of David and Solomon or the eons of the reigns of the several kings of Israel/ Ephraim and of Judah until we read of the arrival of Godly King Hezekiah of Judah who reigned while Isaiah was ministering and strutting his stuff on the wet cement of Judah’s history.

 

However, we are camping with and meditating on a long haul through the thoughts and words of Isaiah. We have no hint that Hezekiah even invited Isaiah’s input to the Passover arrangements. In fact we only have Isaiah’s strong words that sacrifices and religiosity without humility of heart towards God and His word were an abomination to Yahweh and a stink in his nostrils. In the 66 chapters of Isaiah, Passover is not mentioned or alluded to. Did Isaiah despise it so? If so, why?

 

The general timbre of all the prophets is one of “Away with outward ceremony and religiosity. The whole purpose of the law is to drive us to softness of heart, humility of spirit, and faith towards Yahweh. Without faith it is impossible to please God. Without ceremony, but with the heart and faith tender towards God and man, Yahweh is pleased indeed.” The classic lines of scripture that support this line of thought and action are exemplified with:

 

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Passover in Jerusalem recently. I do not think that Hezekiah would have seen anything like crowds like this on the Passover he called.

 “But Samuel replied: “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.” 1 Samuel 15:22

Samuel, the last judge and the first prophet to the nation in the Land set the standard. By the Word of the Lord, Samuel had asked King Saul to wait for him to come to where he was and make sacrifice. Because soldiers were deserting him, Saul made a sacrifice which was not at all in the brief of any king. Levites only were allowed such utility. Saul; claimed to be doing the right thing in the attitude of, “How can it be wrong when I am sacrificing to God.” Because Saul’s actions were birthed in deep fear, there was seriously no faith or worship in his action. It was empty religion. Samuel saw right through Saul’s motivation and spoke the words in 1 Samuel 15:22. God wants the cost of a surrendered heart to be paid, an action in which animal sacrifice is supposed to be naught but a symbol of the reality of the heart.

 

“O Lord, open my lips, that my mouth may declare Your praise. 16 For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering. 17The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” Psalm 51:15-17

Here we see the Prophet King David uttering the extremely lucid thought that all the later prophets majored on. David, in an Isaiah like strain, actually declares that sacrifice and burnt offering are not at all pleasing towards God without the sacrifice of a broken spirit and a contrite heart. Even in David’s day it was true that without faith it is impossible to please God. That has been true since Adam’s creation. This is not David’s only line in that direction. Read Psalm 40:6, Psalm 50:8, Psalm 69:30-31.

 

“To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.”   Proverbs 21:3

This verse from Proverbs does not exactly negate the sacrificial approach, but it does state things in the spirit of what the prophets declared a century or so later. There was not the abuse of the sacrificial system in Solomon’s day as there was generations later. It was a gradual downward slide.

 

“The multitude of your sacrifices– what are they to me?” says the LORD. “I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.” Isaiah 1:11

Isaiah declares it as it is. Without the heart, God does not even acknowledge the sacrifices no matter how meticulously Moses set the rules. Isaiah’s generation was so full of godless, faithless religiosity that Isaiah set about tearing up the status quo in his very first chapter. He cuts the religious emptiness with the knife of his words.

 

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Jerusalem

“Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, “Add your burnt offerings to your sacrifices and eat flesh. For I did not speak to your fathers, or command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices.

But this is what I commanded them, saying, ‘Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you will be My people; and you will walk in all the way which I command you, that it may be well with you.’” Jeremiah 7:21-23.

In most English translations Jeremiah here sounds as if he is being sarcastic. “Go ahead and carry on with more and more sacrifices. But the day I brought you out of Egypt I did not so much as say a word about sacrifices and burnt offerings. Faith, the hearing heart, and the obedient servanthood is all God wants in reality.

 

“What can I do with you, Ephraim? What can I do with you, Judah? Your love is like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears.

Therefore I cut you in pieces with my prophets, I killed you with the words of my mouth – then my judgments go forth like the sun.

For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.” Hosea 6:4-6

Jesus Himself referred to Hosea 6:6 three times. See Matthew 9:13, Matthew 12:7, as well as Mark 12:33. Hosea literally explains that the prophets came to cut them in pieces in order to draw close to God. Burnt offerings are stated as being useless without a true acknowledgement of God.

 

“Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the peace offerings of your fattened animals, I will not look upon them.

Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen.

But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” Amos 5:22-25

Again and again, the prophets are virtually declaring New Testament gospel truth. “Keep you sacrifices. Stop the religious outlook that thinks as long as it is sacrificing expensively, nothing else matters. Stop the lot! Just give me your heart, and obedience.” The law was being completely abused. The law is not of faith. One could outwardly obey as many details of the outward sacrificial system as one could know about, but without faith it is sheer nonsense – and that nonsense is despised by God Himself.

 

“With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?

Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:6-8

The religious intensity and the costly sacrifices that are referred to in verses 7 and 8 and useless before God without the contents of verse 8 being resident in the heart.

 

“But when you present the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? And when you present the lame and sick, is it not evil? Why not offer it to your governor? Would he be pleased with you? Or would he receive you kindly?” says the LORD of hosts.

“But now will you not entreat God’s favor, that He may be gracious to us? With such an offering on your part, will He receive any of you kindly?” says the LORD of hosts.

“Oh that there were one among you who would shut the gates, that you might not uselessly kindle fire on My altar! I am not pleased with you,” says the LORD of hosts, “nor will I accept an offering from you.” Malachi 1:8-10

Even as late in the biblical time line the same thing was happening and the prophetic message could not change. From Isaiah to Malachi is a stretch of something like 300 years. Israel was exiled. Judah was exiled. The return to Jerusalem was complete, and the Jews had become people of the word – nevertheless the emptiness of unbelief that was partnered by expensive sacrifices and time consuming religious meetings was still Continueing and Malachi laid into the situation just as all the prophets before him had done.

 

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A sanitised imaginative peek at the proclamation from Hezekiah’s message calling all Israel together.

This kind of evidence blows to bits the stuff and nonsense of people teaching that “the God of the Old Testament is different than the Christ of the New.” If a believer cannot see with the eyes of the Spirit that the same God who commanded the man in Numbers to be stoned to death for picking up sticks on the Sabbath is the same God who died on Calvary’s cross for the sins of the world, that person’s theology and understanding of the character of God needs a complete re-examination. Faith needs overhaul after overhaul until the unity of both Old and New Testament is clearly seen.

 

And so, it is because of these kind of statements from the prophets, statements which were lengthily repeated and elucidated upon by Isaiah, that this writer opines that he did not really want to link up with Hezekiah in the arranging of the Passover. Isaiah saw too much lack of broken heartedness, contrite spirits and practical faith to approve of it. Hezekiah clearly saw many social benefits within his kingdom that would accrue because of it. But social benefits and cohesion of society are serendipity’s and side issues that flow from such national celebrations – but the celebration itself is as far as the east is from the west as far as its primary function stands.

 

In Exodus 12:11, 12:27 and Leviticus 23:5 the feast is referred to as “The Lord’s Passover.” “Yahweh’s Passover.” In John 2:13, 6:4 and 11:55 it is referred to as “the Jew’s Passover.” The significance is striking. In between the two notions we have “Hezekiah’s Passover.” Whether or not the Passover that Hezekiah arranged was “Yahweh’s Passover,” I leave my readers to judge.

 

Even though it seems like a huge negative that Passover had never been held in Israel since Joshua’s day, it takes deep thought and profound judgement to decide whether one believes that the Passover here benefitted the spiritual life of the people of God in Hezekiah’s day. Godlessness and debauchery, idolatry and worship of demons had been rampant since Solomon. Hezekiah was only one man, no matter what rank he was in the pecking order of society. But did his call for Passover come out of his renewed self in God, or the political father of the nation wishing to rid his people of the Israel-Judah split, even after the exile of the north?

 

Things had drastically changed since Joshua’s day, by the time Hezekiah sat on the throne and called for Passover for the whole nation. You see, there were only two full tribes left in the land. Well … three tribes if we include Simeon who had been assimilated into the throngs of Judah and disappeared early on in the days of the Judges.  Judah and Benjamin were all present and correct to hold Passover and meditate on the deliverance from Egypt, but the remnant of all the other tribes were nothing but the odd families and small clans within what used to be the northern kingdom. The majority of the folks up in the north of what David and Solomon knew as Israel, weren’t even Jews. Oh dear! Hezekiah’s call to the nation to come and exult in Yahweh through the celebration of Passover has a little bit of a hollow ring to it to my ears.

 

I am not suggesting that Hezekiah was at fault. Far from it! Hezekiah was the godliest king since David and Solomon’s youth. He was making do with what he had. And he only had a fraction of the full count of Jews that were alive on the planet as he called for his subjects to gather in Jerusalem.

 

Even the historians thought it unique and bold of Hezekiah to venture forth with Passover. According to Josephus in Antiquities 9;13:2,3 the Passover festival had not been celebrated in Jerusalem – at least not in a memorable manner – since David had made Jerusalem his city and Israel’s capital.  So this would have been the very first Passover ever seen in Jerusalem. Hezekiah apparently wanted to make up for lost time and organised festivities on an unparalleled and incomparable measure and panache. The motives, as we shall see, show the true character of good king Hezekiah.

 

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An extremely sanitised view of Hezekiah’s Passover.

Royal couriers with formal invitations went south throughout Judah and north through the nearly deserted Israel/ Ephraim. The proclamation was read out wherever the messengers saw human beings, and there might have been a few thousand at the most over all the land. The announcement heard was:

 

“People of Israel, return to the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, that he may return to you who are left, who have escaped from the hand of the kings of Assyria. Do not be like your parents and your fellow Israelites, who were unfaithful to the Lord, the God of their ancestors, so that he made them an object of horror, as you see. Do not be stiff-necked, as your ancestors were; submit to the Lord. Come to his sanctuary, which he has consecrated forever. Serve the Lord your God, so that his fierce anger will turn away from you. If you return to the Lord, then your fellow Israelites and your children will be shown compassion by their captors and will return to this land, for the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him.” (2 Chronicles 30:6-9)

 

The mission of the proclamation must have been seen as a successful one. According to the account in Chronicles and in Josephus, pilgrims came from the areas of Zebulun and Issachar in the north to join Judah in the south celebrating Passover. So it clearly was not just a Judah and Benjamin show. The worshippers from the northern tribal zones were certainly notable at this celebration in Jerusalem because that year would have been somewhere around 700 BC. 22 years earlier, the kingdom of Israel/Ephraim in the north had been devastated by the Assyrian Army and the whole ten tribes had been dragged away into captivity. Evidently there were enough people left to at least make a show and come to Jerusalem and the Temple for the Passover.

 

But there was an astonishing incongruity – nay – irregularity in relation to the timing of the festivities mentioned in the book of Chronicles. I am referring to an abnormality that is not even mentioned or even hinted at by Josephus. The truth is that the so called “Hezekiah’s Passover” was not held in the month of Nisan but in the following month of Iyyar. In the west one might not get hold of the significance of this point. It would be like the UK government deciding that we hold Christmas one day in June. It is an astonishing fact reported by the biblical text often glossed over by preachers and commentators.

 

So why did Hezekiah make such a radical change to the divinely ordained date for Passover?  Answers are given, but they still leave the spectator in a bit of a shock. According to the text not enough priests had consecrated themselves and the people had not assembled in Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 30:3). Could this be the only reason? I mean, seriously, Passover would have been the very high point of the year for the Levites as priests to the nation.  Unless Hezekiah the king left it right until the last minute to call Passover, why on earth would the priests not be ready?

 

Is this the real reason?  Perhaps Hezekiah called Passover days after the incredible account of the deliverance from Sennacharib had taken place. If so we may understand and give them grace for not being ready. What I mean by that is that we know with absolute certainty that Sennacharib’s army, along with the nasty old Rabshakah, were shooed away by Yahweh Himself overnight in 701 BC. No historian questions that as a fact. There were 180,000 corpses outside the gates of Jerusalem that had to be shifted and burned. If the Levites had got stuck in and helped rid the capital of the stench and terrible site of 180,000 cadavers, and if Hezekiah had called for Passover immediately afterwards as a celebration, perhaps we have a good reason why the feast was maintained at the later date and also why the priests were not ceremonially clean. Numbers 9:9-10 OK’s the “month later date” for priests, suggesting that those that were unclean could hold their own Passover later than the rest of the nation. So for Hezekiah to do what he did, perhaps the vast majority of the priests had somehow encountered a huge number of Cadavers. It sounds logical to this writer.

 

Passover 6Hezekiah’s grandson Josiah, who reigned some 75 years later arranged an authentic Passover rejoicing at the correct date, probably having announced its celebration well in advance(2 Kings 23:21-23. 2 Chronicles 35:1). Josiah was also, like Hezekiah, an especially godly man. He was seen as being so godly that he was even compared to Moses. See  2 Kings 23:4-6 in relation to Exodus 32:19, and then read 2 Kings 23:25 in relation to Deuteronomy 34:10

 

Or perhaps Hezekiah was expecting a few “overdue” fugitives from the displaced servitude in Nineveh or wherever else the people of the northern kingdom had been taken, to return just in time for Passover? This is the very thought that was in his mind when he sent the proclamation around the north of Israel. He may have expected some kind of mini exodus from Assyria’s capital because of his call to Passover. It is obvious from the proclamation that Hezekiah believed the national Passover held in Jerusalem would cause wonderful activity in heaven.

 

Or did he also use the unfortunately unclean priests as an excuse to wait for refugees from among the remnants of Manasseh, Zebulun, Asher who had not been taken by Assyria and remained in obscure caves and corners of Israel?

 

Or perhaps, after 200 years or so, of the people of the northern tribes having been banned from returning to Judah and the Temple in Jerusalem by the various dictatorial kings and Queen that had reigned over them through the generations, they were concerned about breaking the ban even though there was no reigning monarch to execute any judgement now, even if they chose to return to Judah and live there.

 

I believe Hezekiah had to delay Passover because of events that were utterly beyond his control. It was a willful executive decision that he made?

 

It seems also, to this writer, after several readings of the biblical account, that his reason was political. I am half convinced that it was a shrewd move to reunite the two kingdoms sundered two centuries earlier.  Judah was somewhat depleted, and the remnant of Israel would have been very small. Whatever, however, he wanted every Jewish man and woman that he could possibly contact, to gather as one in Jerusalem, the city of David that Sennacharib had belittled, and to celebrate Passover as an act of worship to the God of Israel that Assyria’s Rabshakah had so denigrated and blasphemed.

 

After the death of Solomon, the young “hothead” Rehoboam reigned in Judah. Jeroboam the son of Nebat reigned in in Israel/Ephraim. At his accession to the throne, about 930 BC, Jeroboam reasoned that his kingdom could conceivably revert to Judah and be taken over by Rehoboam if his northerners partook in  sacrifices and religious festivities like Passover down south at the Temple in Jerusalem (1 Kings 12:26 on). So Jeroboam the son of Nebat instigated a sinful yet cunning plan to keep the northerners under his reign.

 

In order to forestall a potential coup by disaffected northern citizens (see 1 Kings 12:27) Jeroboam made two golden bull calves (no doubt recalling the Apis bull-calf of the Egyptians) for worship, situating one in Bethel, near Judaea and the other in the far north, and then he arbitrarily appointed non-Levitical priests to administer to the religious needs of the people. He literally allowed any Tom, Dick or Harry who had an inclination for religiosity to act in a role that Yahweh had set aside for Levites only.

 

More than this, he instituted a festival of sacrifice in Bethel, which was only 12 miles north of Jerusalem, on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, a month of his own choosing, and went up to the altar to make offerings. (1 Kings 12:32-33). This was the most seminal act of sin by any monarch in both Judah and Israel. Solomon’s marrying strange women for political gain, and building idolatrous temples for the demon gods they brought with them was huge enough, however, once these bull calves had been installed in Bethel and in Dan, the scripture repeats over and over again that what was rotting the northern kingdom of Israel was the adventures into deeper and deeper evil in Ephraim that kept on sprouting up, all because of “the sin with which Jeroboam the son of Nebat made Israel to sin.”  It’s a classic line of repetitive scripture.

 

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Another artists impression of Passover in biblical days at the temple in Jerusalem.

Jeroboam chose the eighth month for his pseudo Passover. The eighth month was Iyyar. Perhaps it was a deliberately late feast he invented “like the festival held in Judah” (1 Kings 12:32) bearing in mind that the golden bull-calves he had set up were stated to be the gods who had brought them out of Egypt (1 Kings 12:28).

 

Clearly, Hezekiah knew something of the ritual festivities that had been in existence up in the north during the generations before he was born. Perhaps the times did not correspond with those current in Judah, especially in view of the fact that originally Jeroboam had chosen an arbitrary festival date. In order to accommodate northern religious sensibilities then, and to co-ordinate northern with southern celebrations, Hezekiah might deliberately have delayed arrangements for Passover festivities, and especially if he also anticipated the late arrival of some returnees from Assyrian captivity.

 

It was a shrewd political move, an effort of compromise and reconciliation, and it received some positive response from the north and resulted in a measure of reunification of the long cleaved northern and southern tribes – or at least what was left of them all.

 

Hezekiah’s diplomatic skill is further exemplified in the naming of his son, Manasseh, who was to reign after him. Such a clearly northern name was surely no accidental choice, but carefully thought out beforehand, calculated to soften the hearts of the separated northerners back to the Davidic dynasty. After all, Solomon and his rash son Rehoboam were long dead and gone.

 

Unfortunately, Manasseh carried on with the sins that Jeroboam the son of Nebat had made Israel to sin. That was one “northern” bit of culture that rotted the very heart of Judah. In fact, it was even worse in Manasseh’s day, for he carried on the abominable practices down south, in Judah and … wait for it … even in the very temple.  It is for this reason that King Manasseh is castigated as paganish and evil (2 Kings 21:1. 23:26). Manasseh well plunged Judah into a place of non-repentance that the inspired writers explain as the final reason why the later destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC, and the exile of Judahites to Babylon fell with the anger of heaven.

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Artist’s impressions of portraits and scenes of Hezekiah and his times with the overriding biblical statement as to his character.

 

 

115. The Spirit of Israel groaning in the Holy Spirit – Crying for Deliverance Psalm 83

83838351 Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah (right) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (AP) 12th May 2015

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah (right) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (AP) 12th May 2015

So, why are we looking at Psalm 83 when we have been negotiating Isaiah 17?

The point is that Isaiah in chapter 17 is telling us that Damascus will be wiped off the map (17:1-2). That is something that has not happened yet. Calculating that the fulfilment of Isaiah 17 is still a future event – simply because Damascus has never been evacuated fully throughout its entire history, never mind razed to the ground – we also assume that the rest of Isaiah 17 falls into the same category and is future. The narrative of the chapter suggests that some phenomena effected from Damascus has shrivelled the Jewish people in the Land that God gave them (17:4-6). The flow of the storyline implies it is Damascus that was the source of whatever shrivelled the Jewish people (17:1-6). I highlighted the possibility of nuclear fallout being described, something that Isaiah, of course, if he had seen it in a vision would not have known what it was. The fact that verses 14 to 16 are still contained under the heading of “The Burden of Damascus” suggests that whatever it is that Damascus did to the Jews in Isaiah’s prophetic vision was actually effected, sponsored or allied with the actions of many nations.” Woe to the many nations that rage, they rage like the raging sea! Woe to the peoples who roar, they roar like the roaring of great waters!  Although the peoples roar like the roar of surging waters, when he rebukes them they flee far away.” (Isaiah 17:12-13a. NIV).

 

So Isaiah 17 leaves us with a misty outline of a vague picture of Damascus, in coalition with “Many nations” unleashing some devastating weapon upon the Jews, after which Damascus is razed to the ground along with the many nations allied within the coalition. All the nations are gone and blown away (17:12-14), as well as Damascus being laid a total waste (17:1-2).

 

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Israeli Infantry

Having extrapolated all that from a face value cursory read of Isaiah 17, Psalm 83 (amongst one or two other passages of scripture) leapt into my mind as a passage of scripture that tells me the same story, yet from a different angle.

 

Terrorists, denying the right of Jewish people to live, and denying the right for Israel to exist are a remarkable demonic phenomena of the last century or so and particularly in the last 60 -70 years. However, organisations that Western governments label as “Terrorist Groups” are often clearly speaking on behalf of governments in the Middle East. Read, study and research and understand that the entire body of Arab leaders and governments of the Muslim Arab world also deny the right of Israel to exist, and Jews to even live. The fact that the governmental powers say it, yet do not do as much about it as the terrorists want done, is the very reason why there are terrorist groups. The only Arab voice that has soft pedalled on the “Annihalate Israel” philosophy is the Egypt. Sadat was assassinated for talking peace with Israel. The middle and reasonable, compromising line that so often dominates western politics is just anathema to most people on the streets in Arab countries. The radicals are only putting their feet where the mouth of their “respectable” leaders have gone. As an example, even the majority of Palestinian leaders were shocked and dismayed when Hamas assumed political power after a “democratic” election in Gaza. We have all Arab nations wanting Israel dismantled and every Jew dead, and they are not at all ashamed to make such desires known to the public world-wide.

 

Anti-Semitism is vomited from all kinds of hideous ideologies. Religious, political, social and even plain downright emotional “grounds” lead some Middle Eastern states to want Israel expunged from the map as well as from the history books. The majority of these “Jew baters,” of course, are obscenely wealthy in “oil money” The issue of oil is clearly a key factor in Middle Eastern political inter- action with the west, and Middle Eastern affairs impact on the politics of the entire planet. The denial of Israel’s right to exist is predicted in the Bible as being one of the key propositions that will bring to a conclusion the present world’s status quo of life as we understand it. In a nutshell, I am suggesting today that this mind-set is here to stay and will not in any way even recede until Christ returns. Oil rich Muslim nations of the Middle East have the money, the will, the technology and the persistence to act on their idea from hell to rid the world of the Jewish race. This philosophy and itemised ideology, I believe, will rise until, like the High Tide at Equinox it will reach a peak of fervency when Isaiah 17 and Psalm 83 will become a physical and historical reality. The Arab world simply wants rid of Israel.

 

This phenomena is widely known as factual to anybody who pays attention to the mass media today.

Please let me know in writing if you can justify disagreeing with me as I make this proposition. Am I not being reasonable in my analysis of the unreasonable mentality of the Middle East?

 

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As promised in Genesis 15:18

Can anybody contradict me when I suggest that, if a government or even an organisation in the world had a huge stockpile of nuclear armaments and missiles, and brashly declared that they denied the USA, or the UK or any of the nations I have mentioned above the right to exist; and then if these aggressors were to declare that the only good American, Brit, Russian or Chinese person “was a dead one”, that organisation or government would be the subject of a military attack almost immediately. No matter how small the body of people were who were to make such a statement, if the stockpile of weapons was as huge as that secreted by Hezbollah at the present moment, military action would be assumed and very quickly seen. The government’s action would be plainly for the safety of its citizens.

 

The world at large, however, does not in any way see things this way when they think of Israel. In World War 2, when faced with a far less dangerous problem, the USA locked up the ethnic Japanese population in internment camps. Spain even set up death squads to deal with its separatist terrorists. Most democracies have literally rubbished the very principle habeas corpus and treated any suspected internal fifth columnists as the very bridgehead of the enemy. There was no “pink and fluffy” talk of human rights in such a situation. Germans were expelled or imprisoned in England. Democratic Czechoslovakia and India undertook wholesale expulsions of millions of their internal ethnic minorities who had – or who were thought to have had – sided with the enemy. Greece and Turkey are other examples. As it is, so it ever has been.   Except for Israel!

 

Today I intend to give a cursory acknowledgement of the fact that the demonic manifestation of evil in the twenty-first century that demands the abolition of Israel and the death of all Jews, worded in a way that denies them the right to love, was foreseen by prophets in Old Testament days. My statement is that the prophet Asaph saw what was coming and actually listed the details of its manifestation when the “Let’s get rid of Israel and the Jews” brigade reaches its peak sometime still in the future. Or is that time about to burst on us?

 

A military parade of Hezbollah soldiers

A military parade of Hezbollah soldiers

And just to make my take on it all clear: Nobody in the world, no matter how huge their army or how powerful their weaponry will ever annihilate the Jews. On what basis do I make that statement? Israel will clearly be in existence at the return of Christ. Attempts to prove my words wrong here are actually attempts to knock God off His eternal, all powerful, all-knowing, ever-present throne. Nobody will ever get rid of the Jews. Israel will be in existence at the return of Christ.

 

I am, today, talking about Psalm 83, written by the prophet Asaph. Asaph was a Levite and the son of a man named Berechiah. Asaph’s work is seen in Psalm 50, and then in an entire series of psalms from Psalm 73 through to Psalm 83. This man was a choir leader in King David’s day (1 Chronicles 6:39).  He was distinguished as a seer (prophet) as well as a musical composer (2 Chronicles 29:30; Nehemiah 12:46).

 

Asaph, as a prophet, saw things that were way ahead of his own generation. He wrote the eighty-third Psalm somewhere around 1040 BC.  And here, today in the twenty-first century, I am suggesting that it is relevant and applicable to what is happening today in the time that we live and breathe, in the situation that Israel finds itself as well as in the frame of mind that all Israel’s immediate neighbours have taken upon themselves.  I believe Psalm 83 could possibly refer to our day, if not, sometime just a little into the future.

 

The ten-kingdom confederacy portrayed in Psalm 83 adumbrates, i.e. represents in outline and foreshadowing, a final gathering against Jerusalem on the part of all of its geographical immediate neighbours.

 

Let me present to you the whole psalm with my analytical headings, and then further below, my analysis of the text. The translation is my own; the headings are my own, as well as the remarks that accompany the text, with several lines here and there created by standing on the shoulders of great men who have gone before me and already seen what I see, whose shoe latchets I am not worthy to fasten. I have to add that none of the commentaries I have ever read look at Psalm 83 in the light that I am here doing. Not even the mighty Spurgeon remarks on the ten nations the way I see it and interpret it. I have heard sermons suggesting that Psalm 83 was the song that Jehoshaphat had the choir sing as he went to battle in 2 Chronicles 20. Nice thought! Good Sermon! Inspirational story! But, “No!” Jehoshaphat had three enemies, Asaph has ten in his prophetic eye. There are a couple of lines of the lyrics of the song that Jehoshaphat’s choir sang. None of those lyrics are in Psalm 83 (2 Chronicles 20:21).  There are indeed certain minor matches between the Psalm and the Jehoshaphat story. However, to even suggest that they are one and the same cannot be anything but an imagined figment. The inspired biblical text of Psalm 83 below is in black, my headers in red. My comments follow immediately afterwards.

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Psalm 83

The Malevolent Accord of Nations to Annihilate Israel

 

A song. A Canticle of a Psalm written by Asaph.

The Unleashed cry from the heart of Israel (verse 1)

The Unbridled scream of the soul of the People of God.

The Hunger of Israel to see Yahweh honour His promise (1)

  1. O El, who is like you?  Do not remain quiet. Do not rest Let there be no silence with you; do not ignore us, turn a deaf ear or hold your peace and keep silent. Do not stand aloof and be quiet and idle, inactive and still, O God.

The Axis of Evil against Israel (verses 2-8)

The Gathering of Nations to see Israel Destroyed.

The Genocidal Plot in a unity of Hate and Aggression by Enemy Nations (2-3)

  1. For, look, your enemies make a tumult and growl in rage. Don’t you hear their uproar? They that hate you have reared their heads, exalted themselves and issued threats. Don’t you see that your arrogant enemies are rising up with hostility against you?
  2. They have taken malicious counsel, devised crafty schemes and with cunning they conspire and plot against your people, and have consulted against your treasured and cherished, hidden and holy ones and made plans to harm them.

The Murderous Contract immersed in Demonic Bitterness, Revulsion and Belligerence by Enemy Nations (4)

  1. They have said, Come, let us destroy and annihilate them as a nation, wipe them out and cut them off; that the very name of Israel may be erased from history and remembered no more.

The Harmony of Hatred enumerated and listed by the Enemy Nations (5-8)

  1. For they have consulted, plotted and planned together with one mind and heart and have agreed and consented to devise a unified strategy. They are unanimously confederate against you. They signed a treaty, formed an alliance and made covenant against you.
  2. The tents of Edom, and the Arabian Ishmaelites; of Moab, and Hagar (Hagarenes or Hagrites),
  3. Gebal (Byblos) and the borders of Ammon, and Amalek; Philistia (The Philistines) together with the inhabitants of Tyre;
  4. Even Assyria is joined with them: and have allied with them to reinforce and be the strong arm of the children of Lot. Selah (Interlude –pause and calmly think of that).

The Prayerful Remembrance of Previous Deliverances of Israel (verses 9-15)

The Prayer of Israel to see God’s Enemies Destroyed.

May God’s enemies be confused (9-11)

  1. Do to them and deal with them as you did with Midian; as you did to Sisera and Jabin, at the Kishon river,
  2. Which perished at Endor: they became as dung on the earth and for the earth and their decaying corpses fertilized the soil.
  3. Let their mighty nobles, captains and influential leaders be cut off and destroyed like their princes Oreb, and like Zeeb: yes and let all their princes die as Zebah, and as Zalmunna:

A Prayerful quote of the plans of the enemies of Yahweh (12)

  1. Who said, Let us take possession of the pasturelands of God and the houses of God meaning, “We will inherit for ourselves The City, habitation and sanctuary of God.”

May the threats and goals of the enemies of Israel be returned on the enemies of Israel and Yahweh (13-15)

  1. O my God (El), blow them away and make them like a rolling thing, like a wheel and the whirling dust, like tumbleweed and the dead and dried thistles; like the husks, stubble, straw and chaff before the wind.
  2. As the fire burns the forests, and as the flame setts the mountains on fire;
  3. So pursue and persecute them with your tempest, and make them afraid and terrified with your hurricane like whirlwind in your wrath.

The Eternal Purpose of God for Israel (verses 16-18)

The Prayer of Israel to see God’s Enemies Destroyed.

May God’s enemies be converted. (16)

  1. Smother their faces with shame so they blush with dishonour, utterly disgrace them; until they submit to you and that they may seek your name, O Yahweh.

May God’s enemies be convicted of their sin (17)

  1. Let them be confounded in their humiliation, ashamed, dismayed and terrified with trouble to an eternity of eternities; let them be put to disgrace, let them perish and be lost.

May God’s enemies be acquainted with Yahweh and His true and Holy Character (18)

  1. Let men learn and know that You, whose name alone is Yahweh, are the most high and supreme over all the earth, the sovereign king over all the earth.

For the Chief Musician on Gittith

83838398 scribe

 

Psalm 83

A Song. A canticle of a Psalm written by Asaph.

This psalm is a lyric, praying and fighting in the Holy Spirit against unspeakable and terrifying odds. It’s ten against one; and all ten wanted not just to defeat the one, but to be rid of the one, which was Israel and all the Jews. Yes! I think it would be true to say that this was a desperate moment that Asaph saw. (Understatement if ever there was one)

 

This prophetic singer was deeply absorbed in the potentially catastrophic dangers arising from a situation where all of Israel’s immediate neighbours were united for the sole purpose of annihilating Israel. He jumps into the deep end of faith. He sings and reaches a spiritual top “C” without a waver in the voice of his heart. It is not a rational, sedentary prayer as we generally witness prayer to be these days. This is a scream from the gut. This is a groan from a man that holds the presentiment of death in his most recent intake of breath that he concedes may be his last. This is an adventure into the spiritual unknown. He is entering the valley of death of his own volition, yet confident that he will have life and defeat the very person of death that he knows is coming to take him. He is wrestling with the invisible. This potential moment of death is the defining moment of his entire life.  This is the moment of time when all that he believes in has to surface to his consciousness. He combats fear and death with his high confidence in the imminence and alignment he has with Yahweh Himself. If his faith does not work here all those that survive him will doubt its reality.

 

Looking into the whites of the eyes of the angel of death, Asaph sings:

 

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Israeli army women.

The Unleashed cry from the heart of Israel (verse 1)

The Hunger of Israel to see Yahweh honour His promise.

  1. O El, who is like you?  Do not remain quiet. Do not rest. Let there be no silence with you. Do not ignore us, turn a deaf ear or hold your peace and keep silent. Do not stand aloof and be quiet and idle, inactive and still, O God.

Asaph prophetically leads the children of Israel of some generation far flung into what was to him, the future. At the point of time this catastrophe takes place, no matter how far in the future it may be, Israel is to be boisterous, raucous and frighteningly aggressive with their prayer. “O El, who is like you?  Do not remain quiet.” “One word of yours, Lord, can deliver and perform the impossible.” They implore Him to speak because Israel is on the cusp of complete annihilation. Israel is in anguish, profoundly. Asaph speaks with the broken heart of a divinely ordained and gifted intercessor. He does not ask for another David, or a Joshua. The thought of any human force is simply not on his agenda. In the face of death, and a violent one at that, people are real. Amidst all the tumult, which will be vast, emanating from the troops of ten different nations, Asaph will be asking for God to break all normal protocols; to shatter the delusions of grandeur in the idolatrous “natural religion” of the ten nations, and the “natural” Yahwehism, which is all that most of Israel will have entered into. “Lord, step out of invisible eternity right into this time/space world and speak. Do something Lord! And do it now!” Natural revelation helps the inner life. But this is asking God to move in the physical. This was Asaph pressing and reaching for special revelation. Supernatural revelation.

 

The psalmist asks God to speak (Do not remain quiet), to hear (do not … turn a deaf ear), and to move (do not be idle, inactive and still). In his desire for victory, as well as saving his own life, he wants the heathen antagonists to know that God is real and all-powerful. There is only one God, and that is Yahweh. Lord, save them or kill them! But save Israel!

The Axis of Evil against Israel (verses 2-8)

The Gathering of Nations to see Israel Destroyed.

The Genocidal Plot of a unity of Nations of Hate and Aggression (verses 2-3)

2 For, look, your enemies make a tumult and growl in rage. Don’t you hear their uproar? They that hate you have reared their heads, exalted themselves and issued threats. Don’t you see that your arrogant enemies are rising up with hostility against you?

The song is filled with the concept that all believers should grapple with and take hold of more than they commonly do.  The cry of Asaph is not because he is facing death and hated. His cry is, “You, Oh Lord, are hated by them! It’s against you, Oh Lord! Not us.” The reality is that the presence of the anointing of Yahweh that has always rested on Israel, deeply stirs the demonic nests that infest the nations that surround them. It has been like that throughout history, it is like that at the moment, and shall always be like that until Christ’s return. Guns and missiles in hands and at their bidding, yes! Order the troops and line up in battle formation, yes! But it is not merely flesh against flesh. This is a battle fought in the heavenlies. Archangels fight for Israel. Prayer was Asaph’s secret weapon. It is still Israel’s secret weapon today. The iron dome works. Its significance is remarkable, to a degree. The shield of faith, however, is greater.

 

“Look! Hear the uproar! Sense their rage! They arrogantly raise their heads to challenge you, oh Lord! This is ten nations, not of men but of raving rabid dogs. “They are so confident of defying you and believing their idols are greater than you, that they all give tongue to a victory shout before their Field Marshall’s have even shouted “attack!” They are so arrogantly sure of devouring us and you, Oh Lord, that they already shout over the feast.” This is Asaph’s dialogue as he looks heavenward. Many would accuse Asaph of being irreverent to pray like this. Make no mistake though, God takes pleasure in such straight talking prayer. This is Deep calling out to Deep. Read Elijah’s prayers and see what I mean. In curt, Asaph groans, “Move now Lord, or it’s too late.”

 

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Israel’s foot soldiers.

There is a dimension here that the world does not know of. Israel and the Land, together, have God’s sponsorship and support behind it. No matter what shortcomings there are in the character of Israel, unless and until they flatly reject God, ethnic Israel and the Land are one. They can challenge the world in His name. This prayer of Asaph’s has the angels of heaven scrambling for their swords and means of battle. Angelic horsemen rush to their horses of flame, Seraphic hosts mount their chariots of fire to come to their rescue. The Hosts of the Lord are about to enter the physical world, seen or not. They will always be commissioned by Yahweh to answer the prayer of faith.

 

3 They have taken malicious counsel, devised crafty schemes and with cunning they conspire and plot against your people, and have consulted against your treasured and cherished, hidden and holy ones and made plans to harm them.

The fruits of Israel’s own intelligence services have fed them well. The Decalogue of enemy states have, in demonic unity, designed deviously, planned perniciously, met and manipulated maliciously. This is no spur of the moment knee jerk reaction of a war. This has been long in the planning. They have held conference. They have signed treaty on the demands and plans of their well thought out campaign, using treachery and circuitous cunning in arranging all their schemes. “Israel must die.” “The only good Jew is a dead one.” Oh my! They have absolutely no idea whatsoever concerning the divinely drawn red line they have crossed with those words, the lion’s mouth they have entered, or the chalice of cyanide they have just sniffed and sipped. They simply cannot conceive that every threat and curse, every machination and device they have invented will come back on their own heads. Like Haman the Jew bater in the book of Esther, they will have built a gallows upon which nobody but themselves will perish. The deeper the blasphemies, the more permanent the curse that comes back upon them. The angel of death, and the father of lies are at the centre of the deception, both hungry for their victims.

 

Israel in the Land are like Christians in the Spirit. Both are God’s treasures. Jesus died for the world as “King of the Jews” did He not? They are cherished in His love, hidden in the palm of His hand, holy and separated to His purposes. This is not pink and fluffy pie in the sky stuff that I am talking about. This is not groundless mutterings of assurance shrouded in superficial religiosity, or pretty talk with which to encourage the dying. This is faith staring death right in the eye and declaring, “Make my day, devil! Just try if you want! I am His own possession.” This is not Israel and Hezbollah, or Israel and Hamas. Neither is it Christian against godless and immoral legislation. This is God versus the devil in the ultimate sense, and, almost, the definitive battle.

 

83838395agony-in-the-garden

The agony of prayer in the face of those that deny you the right to exist

The enemy is raucous. The volume of their screams and the language of their threats are empty of menace and danger when seen and understood by the eye of faith. They might as well scream at the angels that surround God’s throne and attempt to intimidate Yahweh Himself. They have entered a zone in the Spirit illegally where trespasses will be prosecuted in a manner of severity even they cannot imagine.

 

To the eye of unbelief, Asaph and Israel have as good as lost. The Jewish people have never been seen to be so vulnerable, weak, ineffective and mindless. But that is only what unbelief sees. That is merely the tip of a huge iceberg. 95% of their circumstance is being handled by the same forces that hold the entire universe together, and Israel is in total alignment with those forces.

 

The Verbal Murderous Contract of Demonic Bitterness, Revulsion and Belligerence (verse 4)

4 They have said, Come, let us destroy and annihilate them as a nation, wipe them out and cut them off; that the very name of Israel may be erased from history and remembered no more.

Oh! Here it is! The evil rubber hits the road. This is the crossing of the line that coordinates the Middle Eastern nations of today with the demonically predicted move of hell seen by Asaph a millennium before Christ arrived at Bethlehem. “Let us destroy and annihilate them as a nation, wipe them out and cut them off; that the very name of Israel may be erased from history and remembered no more.” Ah, my hateful friends! To your eternal detriment you are about to find that goal easier said than done. Shout the names of your idols and favourite demons all you wish. You beast, with ten heads, are about to die as you wilfully and deliberately step into the mouth of Sheol itself. It would seem that Asaph knows inherently that their plots and plans, as well as their motives and mind-sets, are all fully known to the people of Israel. Israel is living under the umbrella of the most horrendous threat. All thanks go to the grace of God that sustains them through such mental and psychological torture. History is replete with stories of people who have been inspired by hell to plot and plan the very same strategy against the Jewish people: “That the very name of Israel may be erased from history and remembered no more.”  My mind boggles that they would seriously attempt to blot them out of history as well as out of existence. Dream on devil. Do your worst. Yahweh rules!

 

Note my reader and let these remarks sober you up if nothing else in this article does. The ten nations hereafter listed as co-conspirators in this evil action are no more. They have not had a name in the world for many hundreds of years. Ethnic Israel, the Jews, are still a people and are preserved, in order to be called and saved, as all Israel will be in the latter days (Romans 11:25). The diaspora has not absorbed them. The Jews have been preserved for the moment of 1948 and thereafter. The nation of Israel is.

 

The Harmony of Hatred enumerated and listed by the Enemy Nations (5-8)

5 For they have consulted, plotted and planned together with one mind and heart and have agreed and consented to devise a unified strategy. They are unanimously confederate against you. They signed a treaty, formed an alliance and made covenant against you.

They are attacking Israel as one in heart. “But, Lord, it is you they are confederate against. They make a covenant, and ratify it with blood, resolutely banding themselves together to war with Almighty God Himself.” Strictly translated, the Hebrew has it as, “They have consulted together with one heart.” There is absolutely no division in their counsels on these issues. They have one desire only, one purpose solely.

 

Pilate and Herod were made friends together against Christ (Luke 23:12), and these ten come together with similar mind and plan as did Pilate and that “sly fox,” Herod. The hatred and the jealousy these ten have towards Yahweh through Israel is overwhelming to their character and national purpose. No matter what great chasms of differences of opinion each of them hold on religious matters, political issues, or social protocols, that antipathy towards Israel binds them together like intimate twin brothers. In the cause of demolishing Israel, they are as solidly one as it is possible for human beings to be.

 

“They have cut the covenant sacrifice.” They have slain an animal, divided him in two, and passed between the pieces of the victim; and have thus bound themselves irrevocably to accomplish their hellish purpose. They have bound themselves by blood. Their anti-God heart is set in covenantal “concrete.” They have made a deal with the very worst kind of evil.

 

6 The tents of Edom, and the Ishmaelites; of Moab, and Hagar (Hagarenes or Hagrites),

7 Gebal (Byblos) and the borders of Ammon, and Amalek; Philistia (The Philistines) together with the inhabitants of Tyre;

8 Even Assyria is joined with them: and have allied with them to reinforce and be the strong arm of the children of Lot. Selah (Interlude – pause and calmly think of that).

Look at the first two maps shown below. A picture is worth a thousand words, or so it is said. So two pictures, or in this case, two maps should save me pages of writing, whether or not you agree with my proposition in this article. The illustrations explain what I hold concerning the ten nations united to try to rid the world of Israel and the Jews world-wide in the very last days.

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MAP 1

Map 1 reveals the map and the incumbent nations of David’s day that surrounded Israel. Map 2 gives us the same lie of the land with the present national titles within exactly the same geography. The whole series of maps and graphics that are affixed to this article really tell the story of what Psalm 83 is all about. It also illustrates why even some extremely sober academics are raising their eyebrows and wrinkling their foreheads in answer to the question, “Are we there yet?”

 

Every single player in this group of nations and terrorist groups has stated publicly that (a) they deny the right of Israel to exist, and (b) They want all individual Jews whether in Israel or not, dead. Scour the internet, read the books and see if what I say is not the absolute truth.

 

 

 

 

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MAP 2

Edom –            Today’s West Bank Palestinians together with South Jordan.

Jordan’s population is 60% Palestinian.  It is the fear of the state of Jordan that in the process of time they may evolve into a Palestinian state. Truly. They consider having Palestinians within their territory to be an unwanted circumstance, yet they hate Israel more than they hate those who call themselves, “Palestinian.” Their take on Israel is the same as the rest of the Arab world, yet they keep a low profile while they leave the Palestinians in Gaza and on the West Bank to do their dirty work for them.

Ishmaelites –    Today’s Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia, like nearly all other Arab states refuse absolutely to allow Palestinian refugees any Lebensraum in Saudi territory. They just do not want them. In the Arab world, even, the Palestinians are just not trusted. Most commentators believe that the source of the Jordanian attitude towards them is a mixture of contempt for the Palestinian Arabs who, historically, have caused social unrest wherever they have stayed, and their need for the Palestinians to also do their active warfare against Israel for them.

 

In the 1990’s the worst waves of Palestinian suicide attacks were directly triggered by Israeli withdrawals and concessions of land. Every time Israel has conceded land to the Palestinians, they have danced with glee at having achieved “victory” and then proceeded to increase suicide bombings. Because of this historical phenomena, there can be no doubt in any analyst’s mind that a complete withdrawal from the West Bank, such as was part of the Saudi Arabian initiated “Road Map” would trigger a massive rocket and terror assault against the remaining areas of Israel that would be launched from the “liberated” territory of the West Bank. Exactly the same thing would clearly happen if Israel relinquished the Golan Heights to Ba’athist Syria. The Saudi’s carry the same hateful burden as the Palestinians as well as all other Arab states. Like Jordan, the Saudis keep a low profile but manipulate against Israel, using the Palestinians as expendable collateral.

Moab –             Today’s Palestinians and Central Jordan

Noting that Jordan is virtually already a “Palestinian state,” their concern of that fact is such that the children of mixed marriages, i.e. Palestinian men married to Jordanian women, are not legally Jordanian, but Palestinian according to Jordanian legislation. Their desire to be rid of all Palestinians, however, has to be seen in the light of them being the only Arab state that received Palestinians in the refugee departures after the birth of Israel in 1948. Jordan’s attitude towards Israel and the Jewish people is as hard as the terrorists. They were among the first who contributed to the Arab troops who attacked Israel from the very first day of Israel’s existence.

Hagar-              (Hagarenes or Hagrites) – part of, or perhaps even the whole of Egypt.

Things are slightly different in Egypt, but only inasmuch as they have had Presidents who have had the “nerve” to hold conferences with Israel, accepted their right to exist, and allowed them grace to live. Sadat was assassinated for that while Hosni Mubarak was sat next to him. Mubarak was a disciple of Anwer Sadat, hence his similar attitude to Israel. But look now! The uprising in Egypt has seen Mubarak sent to prison for abuse of power. The man on the streets of Egypt have risen up for a mixture of reasons, one of them being that he was too soft on Israel.

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Gebal –            Today’s Hezbollah in Northern Lebanon

Lebanon’s Hezbollah is a Shiite Islamist militia designated as a terrorist organisation by most western countries. It receives all round support from both Iran and Syria. It possesses significant paramilitary and unconventional warfare capabilities. Because of the war between Hezbollah and Israel in 2006, followed by the struggle between Hezbollah and rival Lebanese groups immediately afterwards, Lebanon’s political routine and process is now intensely focused on Hezbollah’s future role in the nation. They are viscerally opposed to what it views as illegitimate American and Israeli intervention in Lebanese regional affairs. They flatly deny the right of Israel to exist, and their attitude to Jewish people is equally as violent and hateful.

Ammon –         Today’s Palestinians and North Jordan

The Palestinian President has issued several statements declaring that “No Jewish state in Palestine can ever be recognised nor its legitimacy acknowledged, and “armed resistance” is still the strategy of choice for all Palestinian so called “moderates.” It needs to be noted that Palestinian Presidents are considered amongst Palestinians to be “ultra-moderate.”

Amalek –          Today’s Sinai

In addition to developing and deploying the Iron Dome anti-rocket system, Israel also continually seek U.S. and other international help to slow or stop the Palestinian smuggling network. These concerns have been heightened by the periodic attacks from Palestinians based in Sinai, including occasional rocket fire aimed at the Israeli Red Sea port of Eilat.

Philistia –         Today’s Hammas of Gaza

Hammas is merely a Shiite version of Sunni Hezbollah, and seemingly just as well funded. Since Israel withdrew from Gaza, the Strip has become nothing but a terrorist camp controlled by Hamas, allied with Al-Qaeda. Local Palestinians are tortured, oppressed and starved as Hamas steals all humanitarian relief that gets through to the area. Hamas “government” have actually voted for crucifiction (no! that is not a “typo”) for anyone who criticises their rule. If they are so inhuman to their own fellows, why should their philosophy of, “the only good Jew is a dead one,” shock us at all. The leaders of Hammas “state” repeat almost daily how they seek the death of all Jews around the world.  Fathi Hammad, one of their leaders, said in Gaza on January 2, 2009, “We will not rest until we destroy the Zionist entity.” That is referring to Israel, of course. Muhsen Abu ‘Ita the Hammas cleric said on TV, “The annihilation of the Jews here in Palestine is one of the most splendid things for Palestine.” Even the Speaker for the Hammas so called “parliament” (?) in Gaza called for the death of both Jews and Americans while speaking on a Sudanese television broadcast.

Tyre –               Today’s Hezbollah in South Lebanon

In the mid months of 2000, Israel unilaterally ended its presence in the security zone of Southern Lebanon, abandoning that area to the domination of the Hezbollah terrorist militia, which immediately began preparing for the war that erupted five years later. They are stockpiled with nuclear missiles that nations ten times bigger than they do not have. Hezbollah, along with Hamas are two key players in the “Israel cannot be left to exist” groups.

Assyria –          Today’s Syria and Northern Iraq

It goes without saying to most folks that Syria funds, supports and sustains Hezbollah. Al Qaeda are thought to help fund Hamas. Syria is Damascus, of course, which takes us back to the relevance to Isaiah 17 in its links to Psalm 83. Syria puts the money up front, the knowhow and the arms, and the moral support directly to Hezbollah. A little like the Saudis and the Jordanians, their agenda is being meted out by the invented plight of the Palestinians.

 

8383833The obvious cause of the present Middle East conflict is the absolute refusal of the entire Arab world to come to terms with Israel’s existence within any set of borders no matter where. And that situation is made clear here in the eighty-third Psalm written circa a thousand years before Christ was born. Here we see the violent Arab anti-Israel genocidal aggressors in concert, just as we see them in the news reports and the huge library of intelligence that has been poured into the literary cosmos. All the Arab nation states and terrorist groups (the lines are clearly blurred between which is which in some cases) qualify to be counted amongst the ten that encircle Israel and threaten its extinction as seen in Psalm 83.

 

It is true that all of Israel’s immediate neighbours and beyond declared war on them on the very day Israel was founded, but it is only in these last few years we can see and say that all of Israel’s immediate neighbours, have a philosophy and attitude that equates them with the ten as listed in Psalm 83. Whether my assumptions as to the ten contemporary groups as mapped out above is right or wrong, my reason for raising the subject is that the real face of the modern status quo equates to the e-fit drawing that Asaph gives us in his psalm.  I find it something of a phenomena. If these ten are the criminals of Psalm 83, will this generation be the ones taking part in this bloody and horrific warmongering venture as depicted in the Bible? Or do we wait for another?

 

I am no political commentator, however my grasp of human nature leads me to venture reasons why these ten have not just decided altogether to coordinate an attack and attempt to wipe Israel out of existence. What are they waiting for? Laugh and snigger at me if you will but here are my thoughts on what hinders them. This list is NOT in order of importance or priority at all. These reasons are all I have to say as to how and why the war has not yet started.

 

The issue is stuttering to begin because:

 

  1. 8383830

    ……………………………………………………..

    Sunni’s abhor Shiites, and vica verca. The differences between the two are deep. For 600 plus years the Ottoman Empire ruled, and they were Sunni’s. Their belief in a God who justifies killing means that their mutual attitude towards each other matches their attitude to Israel. In some sort of paradoxical manner, for Israel’s sake, I am glad for this demonic difference. The less collusion there is between the two Jew bating forces of Shiite Islam and Sunni Islam, the safer Israel and the Jews are. But I do believe that sooner or later that wall of separation will be demolished by their mutual deeper hatred of the Jews. Remember that even “sly fox” Herod made friends to crucify Christ with Pilate.

  2. I believe that the fact that the USA is supporting, arming, and paying for the best army in the world (Israel), the Arabs are careful not to cross the red line in order to start the mother of all wars. Israel were always seen to be the best in the world at doing “war,” until the debacle with Hezbollah, which was, to put it in sporting terms, “a tie,” no matter what Hezbollah called it. I believe that has caused Hezbollah to think they are even bigger and more efficient at war than Israel is. USA are behind the scenes players hitherto when it comes to Israeli warfare. Whenever the “big one” arises and the USA send soldiers as well as spend dollars, a line will have been crossed that may never be uncrossed this side of Christ’s return.
  3. God! Yahweh, the God of Israel is in charge. All nations and terrorist groups can only go as far as they are allowed. Number 3 is the umbrella that is over and above 1 and 2. In fact that umbrella covers the entire globe. God will halt everything and start everything when He wills. His timing and His purpose is everything. His timing is perfect.

 

This story has other untied ends and unanswered questions to each strand of news that is reported widely and believed by many. For instance, Israeli authorities have expressed concern that Palestinian militants might soon acquire longer-range rockets and precision targeting capabilities that would increase the danger to larger population centres, such as Tel Aviv. The possibility that a more dangerous rocket threat could emerge in the West Bank, especially in light of Iran’s apparent transfer of weapons production know-how to Palestinian militants is more than concerning. Have you heard that in your 6pm family News report. Clearly, the exact scene portrayed in Psalm 83 draws nigh. Were it not for the restrictions listed above methinks that the entire choreography and screenplay for the fulfillment of Psalm 83 is simply waiting for the curtains to open.

 

The genocidal axis players are in the stables, but thankfully not yet, at this moment, at the starting blocks.

 

838383The Prayerful Remembrance of Previous Deliverances of Israel (verses 9-15)

The Prayer of Israel to see God’s Enemies Destroyed.

May God’s enemies be confused (9-11)

9 Do to them and deal with them as you did with Midian; as you did to Sisera and Jabin, at the Kishon River,

10 which perished at Endor: they became as dung on the earth and for the earth and their decaying corpses fertilized the soil

The prayer Asaph leads us in is hardly a New Testament prayer of love, compassion and turning the other cheek. One does, however, have to understand that Israel, as a physical ethnic race of humanity, a nation in its own Land, had a whole different universe of priorities and how to be kept than the born again believer in the New Testament church. This is physical, violent, fight to the death warfare. The truth is that Asaph threatens nothing, sets himself to do nothing, but asks Yahweh only to do what He has already done in previous generations. The cry of his prayer is from the deepest recesses of the man’s spirit. “Deal with them as you did with Midian.” One can’t get more ruthless, and yet so blameless than that. In modern street language he calls for God to do what only He can do. “Do what you do best, Yahweh. Bring righteousness.”

 

It is in the very substance of veteran, applied and experienced faith to stir up reminiscences of previous victories and to mention those victories in God’s ears. Asaph knew his Bible history thus far up to his life time. “Do to them and deal with them as you did with Midian; as you did to Sisera and Jabin, at the Kishon River.” The situations in both cases were very similar, and the predicament of the Israelites was comparable to the graphics outlined here in the eighty-third psalm. Midian perished in that old piece of history, and the prophet was believing that Israel’s current antagonists would encounter a similar defeat by the finger and through the voice of God Almighty Himself. As to Sisera, and as to Jabin at the brook Kishon, the hordes were wiped away in the current by the suddenly distended flood, and they all perished. This was a second occasion of heavenly retribution upon allied groups of antagonists of Israel. Asaph’s memory of what he had read in scripture was clear. When God wants it to be, a stream can be as lethal as the wild oceanic deep. Kishon the river was to Jabin as the Red Sea was to Pharaoh. How easily can Yahweh smite the enemies of his people Israel? So Asaph cries – no! – screams, “God of Gideon, God of Barak, will you not again make judgement for your people on their murderous foes?  You never change!”

 

“They became as dung on the earth and for the earth, and their decaying corpses fertilized the soil.” This was to be the heart of the bloodbath, where the stacks of the cadavers lay densest. They became as compost for the soil, manuring it with “dust to dust” and “ashes to ashes” sprayed over the fields. Warfare is painful, unjust and cruel. However, on this occasion, the sentence the combat dealt out was just. Those who would not see fit to give Israel a resting place above ground are themselves denied a resting place under the ground. Those who accounted Israel as no better than dung, became as dung themselves.  In the crisis of the moment, in the heat of the imminent attack, Asaph seems to be pleading for the identical providence to proceed upon his contemporary enemies of Israel whom he saw in his prophetic vision. This passionate prayer from the lips and pen of Asaph was a prophecy – a prophecy that is not yet fulfilled.

 

As a “By the way”: I read somewhere that in the year 1830, it is calculated that more than a million bushels of “human and equine bones” were imported from the continent of Europe into the port of Hull in the UK. The neighbourhoods of Leipzig, Austerlitz, and Waterloo, where the principal battles of a previous generation were fought some fifteen or twenty years before, were each swept free of the bones of the heroes, and the horses which they rode in their respective last battles. Thus the skeletal cadavers collected from every quarter, were shipped to Hull, and from there forwarded to the Yorkshire bone grinders, who, by steam engines and powerful machinery, reduced them to a dust-like state. In this condition they were sent mostly to Doncaster, one of the largest agricultural markets of the country, and were sold to farmers to manure their lands. The oily substance gradually evolving as the bone calcines produced by the heat and the grinding process, makes better manure than almost any other substance particularly human bones. Enough said!

 

11 Let their mighty nobles, captains and influential leaders be cut off and destroyed like their princes Oreb, and like Zeeb: yes and let all their princes die as Zebah, and as Zalmunna:

By smiting the great ones in the high ranks as well as the privates on the field, the aggressive and violent culture of the defeated ones is subdued – at least for a generation or so. Asaph wants the ringleaders to perish as well as the followers. Asaph is praying that the desires, wishes and curses of their attackers will be reversed upon the heads of the enemy and that the catastrophe is fully theirs. If they had known who they had planned to annihilate, and what that plan meant in the sight and judgement of God, they would have done better to bring tribute to Jerusalem in place of threats of destruction.

 

 A Prayerful quote of the plans of the enemies of Yahweh (12)

12 who said, Let us take possession of the pasturelands of God and the houses of God meaning, “We will inherit for ourselves The City, habitation and sanctuary of God.”

Viewing the temple, and also the abodes of the society of Israel, as all belonging to God, these materialistic, covetous and jealous raiders single-mindedly determined to push out the population, massacre them, and come to be themselves property-owners and occupants of the whole. These were large voluptuous evil words and dark and dastardly designs. Assuredly, when this narrative, perceived through the prophetic Spirit in the mist of the distant future, draws nearer, clearer and then imminently upon the elected generation, it shall be seen how God can bring those plans that look assuredly certain to absolutely nothing. It is absolute vanity and foolishness for men to say “Let us take,” if God does not say “I will give.” He who robs God will discover that he has ill-gotten gains that are heavily coated and marinated with infectious curses and damnation. Without repentance and faith this side of the grave, it will plague the thief and his off-spring for ever.

 

8383838May the threats and goals of the enemies of Israel be returned on the enemies of Israel and Yahweh (13-15)

13 O my God, blow them away and make them like a rolling thing, like a wheel and the whirling dust, like tumbleweed and the dead and dried thistles; like the husks, stubble, straw and chaff before the wind.

Literally, “O my God, make them like a wheel. Rebuke them, and they shall flee far off, and shall be chased as the chaff of the mountains before the wind, and like a rolling thing before the whirlwind. The psalmist describes clouds of chaff blown from the threshing floors, chased away like the spherical masses of tumbleweed which course over the plains of Esdraelon and Philistia, flying with as much hurry and confusion as the wind presses it with. All that is vain, dry, fruitless and useless in the wild terrain is likened to the dark threatening clouds of the ten nations united in their devil inspired mission to kill. “Blow them away like hardly rooted rubbishy weeds before the wind. Disseminate them, oh God! Pursue them, Lord! Carry them to their divinely appointed place of destruction, Master!” All true loyalist to their natal land prays in this manner against the nemeses of their country. He would be no better than a traitor if he did not.

 

14 As the fire burns the forests, and as the flame sets the mountains on fire;

Asaph is not simply pleading with God for deliverance. The psalmist cum prophet wants for them what these hordes want for Israel, i.e. a total removal of any trace that they ever existed. The difference between Israel and the ten vitriolic nations is that Israel are leaving their self-defence requirements to Yahweh, and they are not unlawfully planning to destroy any others without a cause.

 

15 so pursue and persecute them with your tempest, and make them afraid and terrified with your hurricane, like whirlwind in your wrath.

Asaph is like a horse with the bit between his teeth and running the Grand National. He takes his prayer to its furthest and its ultimate. “Do it all Lord! Rescue us and set us free! Take the enemy! Make him fearful! Destroy him! Chase him! Let their cadavers be as dung on the ground.” OK! OK! OK! Asaph. We get the point.

 

The Eternal Purpose of God in Israel (verses 16-18)

The Prayer of Israel to see God’s Enemies Destroyed.

May God’s enemies be converted (16)

16 Smother their faces with shame so they blush with dishonour, utterly disgrace them; until they submit to you and that they may seek your name, O Yahweh.

Oh! Verse 16 has changed the direction of the song writer prophet. Shame them and then save them is his cry. Shame has often weaned men from their idols and sin, and turned them to God.

May God’s enemies be convicted of their sin (17)

17 Let them be confounded in their humiliation, ashamed, dismayed and terrified with trouble to an eternity of eternities; let them be put to disgrace, let them perish and be lost.

It was better that they perished than that Israel should be rooted up. What a terrible doom it will be to the enemies of God to be “confounded, and troubled for ever,” to see all their schemes and hopes defeated, and their bodies and souls full of anguish without end: from such a shameful perishing may our souls be delivered. It is not the will of God that any should perish. Yet, many put themselves deliberately and wilfully outside of the pale of His salvation.

May God’s enemies be acquainted with Yahweh and His true and Holy Character (18)

18 Let men learn and know that you, whose name alone is Yahweh, are the Most High and supreme over all the world, the sovereign king over all the earth.

Hearing of the Lord’s marvellous deeds in defeating such a numerous confederacy, the very heathen would be compelled to acknowledge the greatness of Yahweh. He who is self-existent is infinitely above all creation. All the earth is but his footstool. The godless race of man disregards this, and yet at times the wonderful works of the Lord compel the most unwilling to adore his majesty.

 

Musician. On an instrument of Gath. A Psalm by the sons of Korah.

 

(Psalm 83. My own extended free paraphrase interpretation).

 

Looking at today’s geopolitical landscape, it’s not difficult to envision the scenario outlined in Isaiah 17 and Psalm 83. Syria has been adamant in its demand that Israel surrender the Golan Heights, threatening war if Israel fails to comply. Meanwhile, the summer of 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah has apparently convinced leaders in Damascus that Syria could conceivably be victorious in a conflict with Israel by simply overwhelming the tiny nation with rocket attacks. From a greater perspective, it has convinced the entire Islamic world that Israel isn’t the militarily invincible nation it was once thought to be.

 

Syria’s rocket technology is far more advanced than that deployed by Hezbollah, and Syria is known to possess chemical weapons, including the highly lethal VX and Sarin gases. If Syria miscalculates and attacks Israel with these weapons, the Israeli response will be swift and devastating. Israel is armed with nuclear weapons, and if its survival is put in question, it will not hesitate to use them. If this happens, a mortally wounded Israel will become an irresistible target for her enemies. The surrounding Muslim nations will see an opportunity to destroy her. The scene of Isaiah 17 will be upon us and on our TV screens.

 

Today, the most virulent enemies of Israel reside in the very places named in Psalm 83.

8383835

114. Keeping an eye on the Bible while listening to Middle East news reports.

The anti-Yahweh anti-faith and anti-Israel spirit that has pervaded the human atmosphere for millennia

 

Just saying!

 

It is my conviction that Isaiah 17 should be filed and remembered in our memory banks whenever we are listening to news reports that include Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Iran and organisations like Hezbollah, and others. By reading biblical prophecy and listening to the Middle Eastern News, one would be quite rational to accept the fact that the return of Jesus Christ could conceivably be nearer than most people think.

 

No other state on the planet is confronted by such a grouping of existential threats as those that the nation of Israel defies every minute of every day in the circadian activities of hatred that flow from the many enemies that are so close to her borders. The globe’s only Jewish state is also its furthermost perilously threatened, existing constantly on the cusp of fatal attack and murderously intentioned advances from a whole wad of neighbours that have a sincerely hateful death wish for the state and all its population. Most nation states around the Middle East publish maps and routes that do not acknowledge that Israel is, or ever has been in existence.

 

Geographically minute as far as nations go (22,072 kilometres square including the Golan Heights as well as East Jerusalem. Belize is the next largest state in the world), Israel is delimited and surrounded by so called “theocracies” that deny and violently rebuff its very right to exist and its people’s right to live.  As far as the Arab and Muslim people of the Middle East are concerned, the physical fact of its existence is an obscene catastrophe and they do not only call for Israel’s dissolution, they want all Jewish people dead. Please don’t be concerned about the spirit with which I write these words. I am not writing from grudge, animosity, hatred or disdain towards anybody. I am merely repeating what is commonly stated and discussed on News programmes in all free nations in the world. I am also simply quoting stuff from the websites of Hezbollah, Hammas and other groups. I pray for the folks lost in Islam asking God to bring them to His love and Christ’s saving grace. I pray for the so called “extremists” also, both Sunni’s and Shi-ites. The fact that there are militant forces in the earth whose sole purpose is to eradicate Jewish people as well as the state of Israel off the map makes chapters of prophecy like Isaiah 17 (and there are others) very relavant to our observations and judgments of where the world is going. God is in charge and working out His plan.

 

T o accomplish and fulfill these malignant highly toxic aspirations, anti-Israel Islamists (both extreme and not so extreme) have spawned and hatched a concept that has brought into the slimy darkness of a murderous putrefying mindset  rocket shooting, bomb toting, murder carrying mobs that are sworn to wipe Israel from the face of the earth. They are indeed structured and militarised with order and precision, yet the mindsets that motivate them are truly mob like. We are talking of the motives of hell. Satan himself was a murderer from the beginning, so why should we be shocked at such an outlook. “Let’s get rid of all the Jews” is their perpetual scream. Heard that somewhere before? When will the people of hate in this world get to grips with the fact that such motives are literally defying the plan and purpose of God Almighty, and that peoples and groups that plot, plan and perpetrate activities to bring that goal about are actually signing their own death warrant as well as the ultimate death of their own purposes? I say these things with the entire and fullest authority of the scriptures. I also say them with the authority of History. Israel cannot be annihalated – and I do not say that because of any great virtue or Godliness of the secular state of Israel as it now is. It is God’s stated prerogative as seen in the Bible that causes me to assert that as fact.

For those that claim that the present state of Israel is secular  and man created and is therefore outside the pale of scripture and its promises to a nation called Israel, I say- “Read the Bible.” Israel was commonly godless and secular, if not secular then totally idolatrous.    The world is enriched and made wise by the writing Hebrew prophets, but they were only sent because of the secular, worldly, evil culture that developed amongst the Hebrew people. The Northern Kingdom of Israel was completely created by man. The murderous coups which replaced king after king in Ephraim were as far from godly as it is possible to be. The desire to befriend other idolatrous nations was far less godly than the present state of Israel. It is now New Testament times and the replacement Theology people who are convinced that God has finished with Israel have entered into a grave and serious error. God has not finished with Israel. It is Israel, and the anti-Israel vitreol from certain nations and races that will bring this present world system to a close with the return of Christ. God’s programme of promises for ethnic Israel, and the fulfilment of his purposes with ethnic Israel may have been to a certain degree suspended during the church age, but ethnic Israel will be grafted in again to the plan of God, and they shall be converted as a remnant en masse as Christ’s feet return to the Mount of Olives. The promise of the land, and the settlement of Israel throughout the millennial reign of Christ, all of which are mentioned in Isaiah, ensure the importance of the state of Israel in the land of Israel in the plan of God.

Just above Israel’s northernmost border in Lebanon is Hezbollah territory, the “Party of God,” which is busily hoarding and amassing tens of thousands of Iranian missiles in anticipation of the war of obliteration and extinction it has vowed to wage against the Jewish state. Hezbollah was conceived by Muslim clerics and funded by Iran following the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, and was primarily formed to offer resistance to the “Israeli occupation.” Staffed by the mentality of Iran’s Republican Guard and fully supported by Iran, Hezbollah was the largest terrorist force in the world before the so called Islamic State emerged. The voices of Hezbollah make their revulsion for the Jews as publically explicit as possible at every chance and occasion they get to do so. They have actually proclaimed in public that their ambition is to “finish the job that Hitler started.” Its fanatical secretary-general, Hassan Nasrallah leads thousands of followers chanting and screaming, “Death to Israel. Death to the USA.” His predecessor was assassinated by the Israel Defence Forces. Mr. Nasrallah has even said that he would be happy if every Jew in the world came to live in Israel, because that would save him the trouble of chasing them all over the world to kill them all after they have dissolved the state of Israel. Hezbollah are amassing their rockets for the one and only purpose of the obliteration of Israel. In May 2006 Nasrallah stated that, “Today all of Israel is in our range…Ports, military bases, factories … everything is within our range.” Their declarations are filled with the purest hate and vitreol known to man and demon. It is exactly the same vintage of poisonous hate for which many of the gentile nations were being judged, as we are seeing through chapters 13-35 of the prophet Isaiah.

 

Syria is part and parcel of the nurturing facilities as well as the funding capabilities to the growth and development of Hezbollah’s position opposing Israel. Thus my conviction that Isaiah 17 is intensely relevant to today’s Middle Eastern scenario and the prospective result.

 

Lebanon’s Hezbollah is a Shiite Islamist militia, cum- political party, and even cum-social welfare organisation. The United States, Canada, and Israel have categorized Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. It needs to be added that this year (2015) a recategorisation by the U.S. National Intelligence removed Hezbollah from its list of internal terror threats to the USA, while it still remains as a terrorist group. The European Union and New Zealand have banned and prohibited Hezbollah’s military wing without listing Hezbollah as a whole, a terrorist body.

 

The remarkable things is that Islamic State have arisen onto the scene of time, and because Islamic State are Sunni Muslims and Hezbollah are Shiites, we have the phenomena that the anti-Israel activities of Hezbollah have been ever so slightly distracted because of Shiite and Sunni arguments and differences in-house to the Muslim cosmos. In God’s great economy, the rise of the so called Islamic State is postponing the precipitous violence towards Israel that could bring about the scenario explained throughout Isaiah 17. I want to write that the so called Islamic State have come to this world’s kingdom for such a time as this – but it seems somehow a misuse of even a parody of scripture.

 

Islamic State is a transnational Sunni Islamist insurgent and Terrorist group that has expanded its control over areas of Northwestern Iraq and northeastern Syria since 2013. They have threatened the security of both Iraq and Syria  and by their twenty-first century high tech propaganda and recruiting strategy via the Internet they have made themselves a  striking phenomena to the western world. There are, as I write, more than 60 countries directly or indirectly waging war against the so called Islamic State even as I write.

Syria with Damascus at its heart, Lebanon with Hezbollah, and Iran’s belligerence against Israel, and the threats of war and violence that are explained above seriously indicate that Isaiah 17 and the unfulfilled narrative of what is promised over Damascus, cause me to encourage my readers to keep one eye on the prophets while reading current Middle East news reports.

 

113:  Isaiah’s Prophecy of Damascene Doom not yet Dispersed Isaiah 17

Isaiah 17

 

Isaiah 17 nuclear-explosions-atomic-bomb-cities This divinely revealed burdening prophetic message, this oracle, came to me concerning Damascus: Look! See! Damascus will cease to be and is no longer a city. It will be taken away as a metropolis. It will, disappear and become a heap of fallen ruins, a pile of rubble.

 

The cities of ruination will be abandoned, forsaken and deserted. They will be devoted to sheep that will graze in the streets undisturbed and lie down unafraid. There will be no terrorists to make them afraid or to chase them away – Terrorism will be no more.

 

The bulwark of Ephraim will also be removed leaving them without aid or succour, and the royal power of sovereignty in the kingdom of Damascus will end. The few left in Aram (Syria) will be like the splendour of the sons of Israel and share the same fate of Israel’s departed glory. This is the declaration of Yahweh Almighty of Heaven’s Armies, the Lord of hosts” (Isaiah 17:1-3, Lannon’s own paraphrased Version).

 

Isaiah 17:1 states that one day Damascus will cease to exist as a city. That has not happened, so the fulfillment is still future. This dreadful statement has yet to take place. The mind’s eye has only one frame of reference in modern times with which to imagine what the prophet is talking about, namely the circumstances of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that closed down World War 2 in the East almost immediately. In the Hebrew my translation of “divinely revealed burdening prophetic message,” is sourced in a single word; “Massaw”: “Burden.” This message was a burden and a weight on the prophets heart and mind. The words “burden of Damascus” also indicates that this chapter, in the mind of Isaiah, is primarily and substantially concerning the issues that surrounds Damascus and the future of the Damascenes, even though there is a considerable section of the passage referring to Ephraim, i.e. Northern Israel, which, to my understanding, was no longer in existence as Isaiah declared this message re the capital of Syria and its entire population. Even if this chapter was written pre-732 BC (and I cannot accept the motives that cause academics to say it was), it does not in any way alter my application of the chapter. The Area to be affected by the desolation is referred to as “Damascus.” Throughout scripture, when a primary city is mentioned, especially in Prophecy, the capital city is a euphemism for the entire nation. We are talking of what dictionaries refer to as a synecdoche. Mention Jerusalem, the prophet is referring to Judah. Mention Samaria, the Seer is seeing what is happening to the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Mention Damascus, Isaiah is speaking of Syria. This vision is a huge and troubling one.

 

Isaiah 171Mk_6_nuclear_bomb

Mk_6_nuclear_bomb

Verse 2 in most translations and commentaries translates “are Aroer” as “the cities of Aroer.”  After consulting Hebrew lectionaries and scholars I am given to understand that the word “Aroer” could better be translated as “ruins.”  After that discovery I then stumble across some high flying academics that believe that this is not speaking of an actual place name at all. In fact there are two or three cities in the biblical lands and surrounds that were named “Aroer” and most scholars and commentators have problems in making any of them particularly relevant to the prophecy at hand. So, by taking “Aroer,” as an adjective rather than a noun, it would seem that Isaiah’s statement would be referring to all surrounding cities within Syria’s borders and in the surrounds of Damascus. For that reason I suggest it means “The cities of ruination will be abandoned, forsaken and deserted.”  From the statement I see Damascus and the nation it holds together reduced to “ruins; nakedness, and destitution.” The Hebrew word used for “forsaken” is “azab,” and means abandoned, withdrawn, left behind, released, or neglected.

 

If my conjecture has any validation at all, and if this desolation were to take place in our day, it would mean that the cities of “ruin” would include the Hezbollah stronghold in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon, which is in a direct line between Beirut and Damascus. Excuse the quantum leap from biblical statements to twenty-first century current affairs, but that could be exactly the issue that Isaiah is addressing, and this could be the time to which his words are latched and fastened in the divine economy.

 

Isaiah 172

The day after the first ever Nuclear bomb was dropped in Japan 1945

God actually presents us with a veiled reason for purposing to judge and destroy Damascus. The well accepted and profoundly knowledgeable prophecy scholar, Hal Lindsey (author of the best seller “The Late Great Planet Earth”), accepts and teaches authoritatively that Isaiah 17:3-8 is mainly dealing with the nation of Israel and what has happened to them during this present generation. Syria has hardly left Israel to peace since the Israeli state was created in 1948. Even though it is the “burden of Damascus,” Isaiah changes the focus from Syria to Israel, because God’s judgment upon Damascus is an answer to what they will have done to God’s people, the Jews.  On Israel’s northern border, in Lebanon, Syrian birthed Hezbollah, “The Party of God,” is busily stockpiling tens of thousands of Iranian rockets in anticipation of their war of annihilation it has promised to wage against the Jewish state. Created actually by Iran’s Republican Guard and supplied by Syria’s officially fascist dictatorship, Hezbollah was the largest terrorist army on the planet before the so called Islamic State came into being. The biblical pronouncements of Isaiah become incredibly relevant and purposeful.

 

It must always be remembered that the death and doom prophetic messages that are dotted throughout the Old Testament, and especially in the writings of the prophets, are never random thoughts and messages. There is always good sound solid logic behind everything that God Almighty threatens, and what He threatens He will perform. The character of God is such that even His foolishness is more logical, intelligent and correct than the wisest human being.

 

Verse 3 implies that there is some sort of interaction, probably confrontation between Israel and Syria, because both of them are mentioned as suffering great damage, seemingly contemporaneously. The prophet states that “The bulwark of Ephraim will also be removed leaving them without aid or succour, and the royal power of sovereignty in the kingdom of Damascus will end.” As stated above, Ephraim is undoubtedly a euphemism for what was the entire realm of Northern Israel. Yet, when we see Isaiah’s meaning in the light of twenty-first century warfare, the statements would infer that the northern territories of modern Israel, including Palestinian occupied pockets in that area, of which there are quite a few are addressed.  Verse three makes it clear that the prophet is talking about something that has happened to cause the weakening of cities in northern Israel as well as absolute destruction in Damascus and its surrounds. I am not being extravagantly imaginative or playing with language when I say that it sounds like a war or a military confrontation of some degree. A war of catastrophic consequences.

Isaiah 173 Damascus

Damascus today

 

Verse 3 goes on to say The few left in Aram (Syria) will be like the splendour of the sons of Israel and share the same fate of Israel’s departed glory.” So, on the understanding that some military confrontation is being referred to here as well as its results, this “battle” or “war” will bring about the destruction of even the last remaining remnant of the Syrian population as well as the taking away of “glory” from Israel. My perspective of this is that, Israel (whether because of their action or that of some supporting ally) will cause the community of nations, by their presuppositions and prejudices, to see Israel as the “bad guy” in the fracas. Why do I say this? I make this conclusion, simply because it states that their “glory”–i.e. honor, or respect will be gone. Possibly because they, or somebody on their behalf, will be forced to use nuclear weapons against Damascus. We are talking about the breeding ground and home bases of Hezbollah and the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade.

 

In that day, the glory of Jacob (Israel) will be very dim, for leanness will stalk the land.

Israel will be abandoned like the grain fields in the valley of Rephaim after the harvest.”Only a few of its people will be left, like the stray olives left on the tree after the harvest.

Only two or three remain in the highest branches, four or five out on the tips of the limbs. Yes, Israel will be stripped bare of people,’ says the Lord, the God of Israel” (Isaiah 17:4-6 Lannon’s own paraphrased Version).

 

Isaiah 174 Hiroshima Atomic_X[2]

Hiroshima. Before the nuclear explosion – a thriving City. Afterwards – as pou see here.

Verse 4 is the key verse to explaining the crux of the reason why Damascus will be judged. It is the judgement of God that will take place no matter what human force “presses the button” that annihilates Damascus. It is here that Isaiah explains what Syria will do that will finally fill Syria’s cup of sin as a nation. It will have been the final act of evil towards Israel that will be the summit of at least three and a half millennia of atrocities against the Jewish people.  Isaiah boldly declares, “the glory of Jacob (Israel) will be very dim, for poverty will stalk the land. Israel will be abandoned like the grain fields in the valley of Rephaim after the harvest.” Jacob is another name for Israel, and when it is used in Scripture, it usually refers to the people of Israel rather than the country or territory.

 

The idea here suggests that Israel becomes “enfeebled” or they “waste away.” It sounds like the people of Israel are sick and weak? What would make them this way?

 

I have no doubt that it would be difficult for Isaiah to find adjectives to describe what he saw, if I am even vaguely going in the right direction when I suggest that what he saw was modern twenty-first century war fare and nuclear fallout, and or weapons of Mass Destruction.  Could it be that the description of Israel’s people becoming sick and weak may be because Israel is suffering from the effects of chemical or biological weapons? Think about all the arguments recently between the U.S., Russia, and Syria over Syria’s use of chemical weapons on their own people. They definitely have the capability and the will in that area! Syria was said to have used Sarin, a nerve gas that is odorless, colorless, and can easily mix with water contaminating water and food supplies. In strong doses it can be fatal. In smaller doses it can cause vomiting, muscles spasms, dizziness, erratic heart rates, blurred or pained vision, sweating, and unconsciousness.

 

If a confrontation was to occur I doubt that Syria would hesitate to use the chemical weapons that are obviously in their arsenal. I think this is probably one of the reasons why Israel has been so reluctant to strike Syria today even though both Iran and Syria are continuing to supply Hezbollah with weapons. Israel may be realistically concerned that Syria may use chemical weapons against them.

 

Isaiah 174 hiroshima

Hiroshima after the bomb fell

I am not predicting, prophesying or trying to be dogmatic about anything at all. I am merely stating that I do believe Isaiah 17 has yet to be fulfilled. That is a conviction I carry. The rest of what I am saying is literally the meanderings of my mind with what realistic and affirmed knowledge I have of the Middle Eastern situation, limited as it is.

 

So imagine – and believe me I am only imagining – that having been pushed over the edge Israel hit Syria with a nuclear bomb and the remnant of Syria struck back with some chemical weapon of mass destruction. That is a suggestion I proffer with open hands and without even a claim to inspiration. What think ye my reader?

 

I shall add what I do believe with all my heart, and that is to affirm that because Isaiah 17 must be fulfilled in the future, the terminology of people being “wasting” and “thin,” and cities being razed to the ground means that this chapter must be one of the most important passages of prophecy when seen in the light of the current ever changing scenario concerning Israel, Lebanon, Syria and Iran. May God grant mercy to all in Syria and Israel when Isaiah 17 becomes history, whether it be in our day or far into the future.

 

Verses 5 and 6 are a series of similes to imprint on the readers mind the point that even though Israel will suffer greatly from this attack, or whatever form this attack will take, a remnant will survive. Israel will suffer, but it will never be totally destroyed.

 

Verse 5 pictures a reaper harvesting corn in the Valley of Rephaim, just south, southwest of Jerusalem. I do not think that the Geography is important to the issue, but the harvesting in the area is. It is probably a sight that Isaiah himself had seen from time to time. In Biblical times it was a custom that was indeed stipulated by Yahweh Himself that farmers should leave the corners of their fields unharvested so that the poor could pick and glean the leftovers of the grain (Leviticus 19:9-10. See also Ruth 2:1-7). This grain was in essence the remnant of the entire harvest and was called “the gleanings.” It was left behind to fulfill a purpose. Likewise, even though Israel will suffer greatly from the attack of what I have creatively suggested may be or could be chemical weapons, a remnant of the population will be left – i.e. the gleaned few of the nation of Israel – the few survivors.

 

Verse 6 continues this idea only using olive harvesting as the parable. Isaiah paints the word graphic of harvesting olives from the trees by shaking them, or hitting them with a rod. Often in the upper most branches, some olives would be left. Not all of the olives would fall to the ground, but gleanings would be left.

 

“Then at last the people will think of their Creator and have respect for the Holy One of Israel.

They will no longer ask their idols for help or worship what their own hands have made. They will never again bow down to their Asherah poles or burn incense on the altars they built” (Isaiah 17:7-8 Lannon’s own paraphrased Version).

 

Isaiah 174 hiroshima

Hiroshima

Verses 7 and 8 brings us to a peak in the narrative. At this point of the account, the Jewish nation, what is left of it, is converted. This occurs as a result of this whole cataclysm which could not be anything but a major world event. Global news services will have a busy day when it takes place. At this point of the story, wherever it is in the time line of planet earth, the people of Israel will once again turn to God Almighty. Currently, of course, the nation of Israel is accused of being predominantly secular in nature. My understanding of biblical prophecy persuades me that the conversion of the state of Israel as one man will take place on the occasion of, if not immediately before, the return of Christ to the planet.  False and dead religious practices will utterly cease to have any relevance to Jewish people, or indeed, to anybody else.

 

“Their largest cities will be as deserted and as overgrown thickets. They will become like the cities the Amorites abandoned when the Israelites came here so long ago.

Why? Because you have turned from the God who can save you, the Rock who can hide you. You may plant the finest imported grapevines,

and they may grow so well that they blossom on the very morning you plant them, but you will never pick any grapes from them. Your only harvest will be a load of grief and incurable pain” (Isaiah 17:9-11, Lannon’s own paraphrased Version).

 

Verses 9-11.The devastation that overshadows Israel will come about because Jewish people “have turned from the God who can save you, the Rock who can hide you.” Those who will have been distracted by the things of this world will be disappointed, for they will have forgotten God, and by putting faith in the things of this world, they will ultimately be disappointed. Their only harvest will be a harvest of “a load of grief and incurable pain.” This grief will be brought to a climax when, in the midst of their suffering, the nation of Israel faces an imminent invasion:

 

Isaiah 175 aftermath nagasaki_bomb

aftermath of the Nagasaki bomb.

“Look! The armies rush forward like waves thundering toward the shore.

But though they roar like breakers on a beach, God will silence them. They will flee like chaff scattered by the wind or like dust whirling before a storm.

In the evening Israel waits in terror, but by dawn its enemies are dead. This is the just reward of those who plunder and destroy the people of God” (Isaiah 17:12-14, Lannon’s own paraphrased Version.)

 

Verse 11 tells us that while both Syria and Israel lie in ruins, the enemies of Israel will view her suffering as an opportunity to invade, their ultimate goal will be to destroy her forever, a goal that some of Israel’s enemies have had on their radar as long as Israel has existed.

 

Verses 12 -14 shows us the vast and varied host in imagined and fanciable security. We are presented with a picture of nations made drunk in their state of might, pomp, vainglory and self-confidence. Yet, ere we reach the end of Isaiah 17:13, we see these innumerable enemies scattered. We all see it and are in the learning process of witnessing the same contrast in everyday life. We see wicked people seeming secure, strong, boastful, and then the next moment utterly cast down (Psalm 73:18-20); or, at the presentiment of the near approach of death, transformed into the subjects of a pitiable despair. The anti-Israeli mass of forces are blown away like Tumbleweed in the wind. I need not tell my readers that the wind of the Spirit of God is what is in Isaiah’s picture here.

 

Father in Heaven, help us not only to see the true significance of what your prophets have left us, but to understand the true demonic force that is really defying You when they think they are only denying Israel the right to exist. Give us the grace also to walk boldly in the light of your word and to live up to what we know, see and understand.

isaiah 176 Skeleton of a Japanese atomic bomb victim, Nagasaki, Japan, by Bernard Hoffman,

Skeleton of a Japanese atomic bomb victim, Nagasaki, Japan, by Bernard Hoffman

 

112. Could Israel “cease to be” again? Possibly another diaspora? Could it be?

WHAT 00000 cropped-black-horse-riderISAIAH 17

Here we are again, asking you to put your seatbelts on once more as I suggest something that may be, might be or could be somewhere in the future – but I dare not be any more specific than that.  It’s a thought that many might consider outrageous. What I am about to throw into the atmosphere today might be complete mist and mirrors, but I suggest could be true, and I intend to explain why – complex though it is. I want to know what you, the reader, thinks! It might cause cardiac arrest for some just to even picture and imagine what I am about to meditate out loud – well, I am not meditating out loud am I? I am writing on the internet. But let me progress my thoughts.

 

WHAT 0 donkeyProposition Number One. There are several prophetic passages in the Old Testament of a “Diaspora.” Or should it be plural vis a vis “diasporas?” “Diaspora,” is Greek for a “Scattering,” or a “Dispersing.” The word was initially used when talking of Jewish people being scattered around the world and living in countries outside of Israel after the seventy years of Babylonian captivity, a captivity that commenced in three stages, 605, 597 and 587 BC and was ended by a return of enough Jews to reconstitute a nation again, also in three stages 535, 527 and 517 BC. It is usually referred to in the singular, and yet there has been more than one time in history when there has been other dispersings and scatterings of Jewish people around the globe. Even on the return sanctioned by Cyrus, there were more Jews still scattered around the globe than there were in the Land of Israel. There are specific biblical prophecies that provide a general overview of Israel’s Diasporas. Israel’s current dispersion among the nations began after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 AD. Roman Emperor Hadrian put down the revolt led by Bar Cochba in which he totally levelled Jerusalem and further scattered the Jews in 135 AD. From that date to the late 1880’s, all but a handful of Jewish communities have lived in the Land of Israel. It was in that decade that the beginning of the modern return to the Land commenced. Yes, Israel, as a state was created in 1948, but the Jewish people had been returning since the end of the 1800’s.

 

The following description lays out key points about the last 2,000 years of Jewish history:

  • “And the Lord shall scatter you among the nations, and ye shall be left few in number among the heathen, whither the Lord shall lead you.” (Deuteronomy 4:27)
  • “And I will bring the land into desolation: and your enemies which dwell therein shall be astonished at it. And I will scatter you among the heathen, and will draw out a sword after you: and your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste. Then shall the land enjoy her Sabbaths, as long as it lies desolate, and you are in your enemies’ land; even then shall the land rest, and enjoy her Sabbaths.” (Leviticus 26:32-34)
  • “there you shall serve other gods, wood and stone, which you or your fathers
  • have not known” (Deuteronomy 4:28)
  • “and you will be torn from the land where you are entering to possess it.” (Deuteronomy 28:63)
  • “the Lord will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth; and there you shall serve other gods, wood and stone, which you or your fathers have not known
  • “among those nations you shall find no rest” (Deuteronomy 28:64)
  • “there the LORD will give you a trembling heart, failing of eyes, and despair of
  • soul” (Deuteronomy 28:65)
  • “your life shall hang in doubt before you” (Deuteronomy 28:66)
  • “you shall be in dread night and day” (Deuteronomy 28:66)
  • “you shall have no assurance of your life” (Deuteronomy 28: 66)
  • “In the morning you shall say, ‘Would that it were evening!’ And at evening

you shall say ‘Would that it were morning!’ because of the dread of your heart

which you dread, and for the sight of your eyes which you shall see.” (Deuteronomy 28:67)

 

One translation of Leviticus 26 has a promise that when Israel is out of their land it will become a wasteland.

 

  • “’And I will make the land desolate so that your enemies who settle in it shall be appalled over it. You, however, I will scatter among the nations and will draw out a sword after you as your land becomes desolate and your cities become waste’” (Leviticus 26:32–33).

 

WHAT -001the mosque's sturdy Roman walls, this quintessentially Damascene mix of ancient grandeur, restfulness, and quotidian bustle continues undisturbed for

The mosque’s sturdy Roman walls, this quintessentially Damascene mix of ancient grandeur, restfulness, and quotidian bustle continues undisturbed in its destruction.

These verses tell us in detail precisely what took place during the vast continent of centuries throughout the Diaspora of Israel. It is said that in 1882 that there were only 24,000 people in the entire land of Israel when the first movement of Jewish return to the land began. Mark Twain wrote about his travels throughout Israel in 1868 in “The Innocents Abroad.” He spoke of how it was a vacant land in which he travelled for three days through it and never saw another individual. Periodically during this lengthy period Palestine was virtually laid waste, and its population suffered acute decline. An enormous swell of Arab population could only have resulted from immigration and in-migration (from Jordan and the West Bank to the coastal area.

 

It is a factual that the land was virtually emptied. It was so through to the late 1800’s. As a “by the way,” it makes the Palestinian claim for Israel and Gaza having been theirs for centuries a total farce and a downright lie. Don’t modern politicians read their history books?

 

 

Many historians have reported the same boring narrative throughout the twelve and a half centuries between the Arab conquest in the seventh century and the beginnings of the Jewish return in the 1880’s, Palestine, as the Land of Israel was known, was an utterl wasteland. Under the Ottoman empire of the Turks, the policy of defoliation could, of course, do nothing but deepen the darkness of the wasteland. The hillsides were denuded of trees and the valleys were thus robbed of their topsoil.

 

In 1590 a “simple English visitor” to Jerusalem wrote, “Nothing there is to be seen but a little of the old walls, which is yet Remaining and all the rest is grass, moss and Weeds much like to a piece of Rank ground.”

 

A Franciscan pilgrim translated a Latin Manuscript that reported that “A house of robbers, murderers, and the inhabitants are Saracens. It is a lamentable thing to see thus such a town. We saw nothing stonier, full of thorns and desert.'”  A century afterward, Nazareth was, in 1697, “nothing here but a vast and spacious ruin.” Nablus (Biblical Shechem) consisted of two streets with many people, and Jericho was a “poor nasty village.”

 

In the mid-1700s, British archaeologist Thomas Shaw wrote that the land in Palestine was “lacking in people to till its fertile soil.” Another writer, describing “Syria” and Palestine some eighty years later in 1843, stated that, “in Volney’s day, the land had not fully reached its last prophetic degree of desolation and depopulation.”

 

From place to place the reporters varied, but not the reports: J. S. Buckingham described his visit of 1816 to Jaffa, which “has all the appearances of a poor village, and every part of it that we saw was of corresponding meanness.” Buckingham described Ramallah, “where, as throughout the greater part of Palestine, the ruined portion seemed more extensive than that which was inhabited.”

 

WHAT 1bigstock-Sky-City-2172877-300x300After a visit in 1817-1818, travellers reported that there was not “a single boat of any description on lake Tiberias (the Sea of Galilee).” In a German encyclopaedia published in 1827, Palestine was depicted as “desolate and roamed through by Arab bands of robbers.” Throughout the nineteenth century the abandonment and dismal state of the terrain was lamented over by very many visitors, the majority of whom seem to me to have been Christian ministers on sabbaticals. In 1840 an observer, who was traveling through, wrote that the once populous area between Hebron and Bethlehem was “now abandoned and desolate” with “dilapidated towns.” Jerusalem consisted merely of “a large number of houses in a dilapidated and ruinous state,” and “the masses really seem to be without any regular employment.” The “masses” of Jerusalem were estimated at less than 15,000 inhabitants, of whom more than half the population were Jews.

 

The British Consul in Palestine reported in 1857 that the country was in a considerable degree empty of inhabitants and therefore its greatest need wass that of a body of population.”

 

In the 1860s, it was reported that “depopulation is even now advancing.” At the same time, H. B. Tristram noted in his journal that “The north and south of the Sharon plain is going out of cultivation and whole villages are rapidly disappearing from the face of the earth. Since the year 1838, no less than 20 villages there have been thus erased from the map by the Bedouin and the stationary population extirpated.

Mark Twain, in his inimitable fashion, expressed scorn for what he called the “romantic” and “prejudiced” accounts of Palestine after he visited the Holy Land in 1867. In one location after another, Twain registered gloom at his findings. He wrote, “Nazareth is forlorn …. Jericho the accursed lies a mouldering ruin today, even as Joshua’s miracle left it more than three thousand years ago: Bethlehem and Bethany, in their poverty and their humiliation, have nothing about them now to remind one that they once knew the high honour of the Saviour’s presence; the hallowed spot where the shepherds watched their flocks by night, and where the angels sang, “Peace on earth, good will to men,” is untenanted by any living creature… Bethsaida and Chorazin have vanished from the earth, and the “desert places” round about them, where thousands of men once listened to the Saviour’s voice and ate the miraculous bread, sleep in the hush of a solitude that is inhabited only by birds of prey and skulking foxes.

 

” Many writers, such as the Reverend Samuel Manning, mourned the atrophy of the coastal plain, the Sharon Plain, “the exquisite fertility and beauty of which made it to the Hebrew mind a symbol of prosperity.”

 

But where were the inhabitants? This fertile plain, which might support an immense population, is almost a solitude…. Day by day we were to learn afresh the lesson now forced upon us, that the denunciations of ancient prophecy have been fulfilled to the very letter — “the land is left void and desolate and without inhabitants.”

 

Report followed depressing report, as the economist-historian Professor Fred Gottheil pointed out: “a desolate country”; “wretched desolation and neglect”; “almost abandoned now” “unoccupied”;  “uninhabited”;  “thinly populated.” This is the land the Palestinians claimed was their inheritance that they have occupied for centuries. Wow! They must think the western scholars are so foolish to have taken their biggotted cries so seriously. In a book called Heth and Moab, Colonel C. R. Conder pronounced the Palestine of the 1880s “a ruined land.” According to Conder, “so far as the Arab race is concerned, it appears to be decreasing rather than otherwise.” Conder had also visited Palestine earlier, in 1872, and he commented on the continuing population decline within the nine or ten-year interim between his visits:”The Peasantry who are the backbone of the population, have diminished most sadly in numbers and wealth.”

Pierre Loti, the noted French writer, wrote in 1895 of his visit to the land: “I traveled through sad Galilee in the spring, and I found it silent. . . .” In the vicinity of the Biblical Mount Gilboa, “As elsewhere, as everywhere in Palestine, city and palaces have returned to the dust; This melancholy of abandonment, weighs on all the Holy Land.”

 

David Landes summarized the causes of the shriveling number of inhabitants: “As a result of centuries of Turkish neglect and misrule, following on the earlier ravages of successive conquerors, the land had been given over to sand, marsh, the anopheles mosquito, clan feuds, and Bedouin marauders. A population of several millions had shrunk to less than one tenth that number-perhaps a quarter of a million around 1800, and 300,000 at mid-century.” Palestine had indeed become “sackcloth and ashes.”

 

The above listed passages of scripture (and there are more that I have not mentioned) as well as the collection of notes written throughout the centuries afford a graphic synopsis of what the universal Jewish scattering would be like. Unfortunately for the Jewish people, these prophetic predictions portray exactly to the letter what had transpired. We are familiar with the Holocaust and the many pogroms that the Jewish people have suffered down through the years. The material in Deuteronomy was given to the nation of Israel at the close of the Exodus period, right before they went into the land of Israel about 3,500 years ago. There is no doubt that this prophetic description was given hundreds of years before it transpired.  Disobedience brings cursing and continued disobedience brings more cursing, until finally the nation is cast out of their land as described in Deuteronomy and throughout many of Israel’s Prophets.

 

My proposition is that God promised the scattering of the Jews. History tells us that there have actually been several scatterings. My painful but rational question is this: Could there possibly be another break up of Israel and yet another diaspora before the Second Advent of Christ.

 

A man stands in an empty street near a burning building hit by a mortar shell fired by Syrian Army soldiers, in the Zamalka neighbourhood of Damascus

A man stands in an empty street near a burning building hit by a mortar shell fired by Syrian Army soldiers, in the Zamalka neighbourhood of Damascus

Proposition number two. The scripture points to the regathering of Israel in the Land to receive Christ at His Second Advent. We still see a majority of Israel in The Diaspora, but at the same time we also see the biblically prophesied regathering of the Jewish people to their land when, and since, Israel became a nation in 1948 (Ezek. 20:33–38; 22:17–22; 36:22–24; Isa. 11:11–12; Zeph. 2:1–2). The population of Israel may be many millions now, but there are still more living outside the Land than in the Land. In other words, the Diaspora is still in effect.

 

Deuteronomy 28:58-68 describes one of the dispersions, in which “The LORD will scatter you among all peoples.” This clearly refers to the Roman period invasions and dispersions. In fact, verse 68 says, “The LORD will bring you back to Egypt in ships . . . And there you shall offer yourselves for sale to your enemies as male and female slaves, but there will be no buyer.” After the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, which was a judgment on the apostasy of Israel and their rejection and execution of the Messiah, this prophecy was actually fulfilled. The Roman general Titus, who conquered Jerusalem and Israel, sent 17,000 adult Jews to Egypt to perform hard labour there and had those who were under 17 years old publicly sold. Under the Roman emperor Hadrian, countless Jews were sold and suffered terrible bondage and cruelty.”

 

It appears to me that God largely kept Israel from others coming and living in it while the Jews were outside the Land. But when the Jews began to return to the land, they were able to turn it into the productive piece of real estate that it has become in our own day. When the Jews first came to the Land 3,500 years ago it was said to be a land of milk and honey. In other words, a very productive land. However, when they are out of the land, others have never seen anything other than a wasteland. As the Bible predicted, it would only prosper when the Jews were in the land.

 

The point of this “proposition number two,” is that Israel need to be regathered together in the Land called “Israel” and not “Palestine,” when Christ returns to the planet. At first glance, the existence of the state of Israel as it is at present, qualifies the Land as being prepared and ready for the end times. But is that really so? Hold on to your seats to see where I am going.

 

Proposition number three. We do not know when Christ will return, but we know that Israel will have fully returned and be reconstituted as a nation at the point of time that Christ returns to earth on Mount Olivet.

 

“’Yet in spite of this, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them, nor will I so abhor them as to destroy them, breaking My covenant with them; for I am the LORD their God. But I will remember for them the covenant with their ancestors, whom I brought out of the Land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, that I might be their God, I am the Lord’” (Leviticus 26:44–45). The Lord said, “I will not reject them.” Notice in the same context the Lord said He would not break His covenant with the nation. So the Bible itself says that God will not disinherit Israel.

 

We see that God is fulfilling and continuing to fulfill Biblical prophecy via the predictions of His prophets about what would happen to the Jewish people when scattered throughout the entire world during the Diaspora. A majority of Jewish people are still outside the Land of Israel, living in the Diaspora. While Israel’s return to their land is ongoing, so is the Diaspora. We are living during a time of transition in which the Diaspora is winding down and the return of the Jewish people is ramping up in preparation for the prophesied events of the very last days that will culminate in the conversion of the nation of Israel and the  second coming of Christ.

 

So the above three logical conclusive propositions are:

  1. Ethnic Israel will be scattered.
  2. Ethnic Israel will be regathered into the Land for Christ’s return.
  3. The presence of the State of Israel since 1948 seems to suggest that the regathering has been made, ready for the last days of the last days. Voile!!

But…

 

WHAT 2 hqdefault

………………….

Proposition number four. The first three verses of Isaiah 17 talk of Damascus being demolished and razed to the ground and the Northern lands of Israel being greatly weakened and broken, if not totally demolished. Yes, Samaria was razed to the ground and made ruins. But Damascus has never been razed to a collection of fields – not yet that is.  This clearly suggests that Israel, or at least the northern extremities of Israel, and Damascus will both suffer gross setbacks as indeed they both did in 732-722 BC, but we are talking to sometime in the future. It must be future because Damascus has never been razed. .

 

For this reason, this writer utterly refuses to allign Isaiah 17 with what happened to Damascus in 732 BC and what happened to Israel in 722 BC. Isaiah states as plain as plain can be that Damascus will be raised to the ground and sheep and wild life shall actually live where the thriving metropolis of Damascus once was. Damascus has not ever been razed to the ground throughout the millennia of its history and its many ups and downs. My proposition therefore is, that Isaiah 17 and its prophetic narrative are still up to this moment of time that I am writing, still future.

 

So…

 

Proposition number five. According to Isaiah 17 Damascus and the Northern lands of Ephraim will suffer great loss again sometime unknown in the future, and if I understand correctly it will happen before the second coming. If I am correct in assuming that because Damascus and Israel are linked together in Isaiah 17, they must be at some future date linked again to be defeated together again in the future and both fall together, we have to come to some shocking conclusions in our final and sixth proposition. I know this will sound wild, but hold your breath while you read it.

 

 

WHAT 3 0_7b53b_ed29655a_XXLPossible Proposition. I pose this thought so warily, but I have to stir this possibility deeply into the broth of my thoughts and expectations of the future, whether it be in my life time or a millennia away in the future. I state it as a question: Is it at all, conceivably possible that yet another diaspora could take place before the second advent, and that Israel would lose its statehood again scattering all the Jews at present living in Israel being scattered.? It seems that Isaiah 17 must take place before the return of Christ to the planet. If that is true Damascus will be required to be flattened before that great day. But northern Israel needs to be almost flattened also. I say that on the grounds of them being paired together in the narrative of Isaiah 17.

 

One can, of course, simply laugh, call this writer a little stupid and extremely flamboyant with his hypotheses and simply return to the proposition that Isaiah 17 is out of Chronology with the rest of the text thus far in Isaiah’s burden. I say again that I believe that proposition to be so weak and sickly that it is actually dead in the water.

 

My strongly held opinion turns my stomach somewhat. The first five propositions I can find no proper agruement to counter. It is the sixth proposition that makes my head spin.

Just saying! Just Thinking!

 

What do you think?

WHAT 9 syrian-history-19001920-44-728

111. The Doom and Damnation of Damascus – The Emptying of Ephraim Isaiah 17:1-3

Isaiah 17:1-3

 

Damascus1-General Bonfils 1877

General Bonfils 1877

On no occasion, or generation, has there ever been another prophet to match Isaiah. Isaiah, whose voluminous activity evidences his perpetual unbroken status of having his head in the throne room of heaven simultaneous to him keeping his feet on solidified dense terrain. This is the son of Amoz, whose spirit was immersed in the stuff of eternity at the same time that his mouth and hands were toiling in the murky issues of things of the here and now.  We are talking of a man who was never out of earshot from the eternal counsel of Yahweh, while his entire body was contemporaneously moving and breathing in very definite moments and locations in the confines of this time-space world and its hugely complex history. Isaiah stood alone in the days of his flesh and would have done so with or without a school of disciples. He still stands alone even now, as we in the twenty-first century can appraise the entire body of Hebrew prophets. One of the characteristics of biblical holiness is the aloneness and uniqueness of being in God, with God and of God. By its very etymological meaning, one attribute (of many) of holiness is being unique and “one alone,” yet never lonely.

 

During his life, and especially after his legendary martyrdom, the entire history of the Hebrew people bore, and still bears, the impress of Isaiah’s activity. What he said or did, or prophetically pointed out, is seen as being true and/or fulfilled throughout the centuries in the ups and downs of the land of Israel and the diaspora’d Jews.

 

It was because of Isaiah’s stature, depth and consistency that prophecy, per se, came to be accepted and treasured amongst the Hebrew people as part of their heritage in God, even though it had been despised and rejected when it was spoken by the likes of men like Amos and Hosea (both contemporaries of Isaiah). These two minor, yet “major” prophets were merely men from a lower income bracket, moving naturally amongst the common people. Yet, they were clearly despised and rejected amongst the professional and upper classes of their day. Amos was seen for what he really was, a simple farmer from the southern Jewish kingdom well out of his comfort zone and geographically out of his own domicile up north in Bethel. There was clearly no mask or pretentiousness nor posturing about him. Hosea, on the other hand, was a figure to be pitied and even mocked. Imagine how he was received in a society where having no children was seen as a curse, but having a child with a prostitute who was his wife and being public enough to call one of his children, “Not Mine!” would have been the basis of a million and one personal and deeply humiliating jokes. It was because of Isaiah that prophecy and the role of a genuine prophet of God became a practical force in the nation’s affairs, not only in the corridors of power within the nation, but in the life of the people and the common man on the street and in the field. Isaiah, it would seem, not only had a group of disciples with him wherever he went, but also had a wife who was a prophetess. To cap it all, he lived and ministered and wrote in the home city of his upbringing. Somehow, however, I cannot even imagine Amos or Hosea being jealous of his circumstances. But by a long life of persistent, consistent and insistent calls to follow after righteousness, I believe he turned the hearts of many towards God Himself.

 

It is plain to see how we can readily grasp that so great a work within the life of the nation could not have been affected by isolated characters like Amos, or Hosea, who stood apart from all the leaders of the two Jewish states. Neither of them had friend nor disciple to assist in the espousal of their cause. Isaiah, however, won the esteem and reverence of the leaders of a generation. It is generally recognized by academics that Isaiah ultimately became the acknowledged head of a great religious movement, especially in his later years. It is, perhaps, a little too much to say that as an older man he was “The First Man” in Judah, practically guiding the helm of the State, and encouraging Jerusalem to hold out against the Assyrian when all besides had lost courage. I have read some volumes, however that make that very claim. It does have to be conceded nonetheless, even to the political historian, that Isaiah is the most notable figure after David in the whole history of Israel. He was the man of the moment in the midst of a supreme and perfect crisis. He proved himself worthy by guiding his nation through the crisis with nothing but the prophetic word with which to fight and battle.

 

Damascus4 Amarah Jouwaniyah, Damascus, Syria

Amarah Jouwaniyah, Damascus, Syria

His commanding influence of prediction, protection, prophecy and direction as well as the glorious anticipation of the coming Messiah remains as a skeletal template splayed out on the history of his nation. It naturally suggests comparisons with other prophets like Moses and his unique leadership characteristics spanning 40 years in harness with eighty years of training. We stand Isaiah next to father figures like Samuel rebuilding the nation of Israel from the rabble sunk into the muck of idolatry and Godlessness. See Isaiah stood back to back and heel to heel with the likes of Elijah, the author of the downfall of the cult of Baal, and Elisha, the prophetic originator of the revolution of King Jehu and his dynasty, and the soulical force of Israel’s great struggle with Syria. These contrasts exemplify the astonishing transformation which little more than a century had wrought in the charisma and objectives of prophets and prophecy. True prophecy was, and always will be the pure word spoken by God to the children of Israel, and was never to be edited or abridged. Yet, as society and the crises and needs of the generations changed, so did the long term vision of each generation’s pastoral prophet. Elisha achieved his first objective by following divine inspiration and speaking into the sphere of ordinary political intrigue. By this means Elisha saw the God ordained downfall of the house of Ahab.  Isaiah, on the other hand, somewhat after the model of Elijah, stood distant from all governmental groupings, and his stimulus and input was simply that of his authoritative charisma, and of the majestic word of Yahweh declared both in and out of season with stanch constancy and consistency. Elisha in his latter days was the inspirational spirit of a courageous encounter, inspiring his people to fight for autonomy and liberty, and to repel the Syrian aggressor by armed force. Isaiah intelligently knew quite well that Judah had no battle-hardened metier that could avail for even a moment against the authority and military supremacy of Assyria. Isaiah did not aim at domestic freedom by means of fighting to the death. Rising above the dreams of unrefined nationalism, he was comfortable to accept the unavoidable, and set out for Judah a course of patient submission to alien bondage, in order that Judah could focus itself on the assignment of in-house reformation and restoration, till Yahweh Himself should eliminate the blight prearranged for His people’s debauchery, iniquity and their deep dyed sin. In this idea he took hold of and integrated into one practical aim ideas which had appeared separately and individually in the teaching of each of his prophetical antecedents, Amos and Hosea.  In the ultimate catastrophe of the Assyrian wars, Isaiah was no less truly the human fortification of faith for the nation than Elisha had been during the dreadful Syrian wars. Isaiah’s heroism was one of patience and faith, and the supernatural and downright miraculous deliverance came exactly as he had foretold, not by political wisdom or warlike prowess, but by the direct intervention of Almighty Yahweh.

 

These series of prophetic messages speaking into the turmoil of the Middle Eastern countries of his generation, and many of their futures are just as miraculous as the Angel of the Lord delivering Jerusalem in 701 BC when surrounded by, possibly, something like a quarter of a million soldiers. Having thus far spoken of the exile of Israel before it took place, the rise and fall of Babylon, the collapse of Assyria, the demolition of Philistia, the holocaust that was to sweep across Moab – Yahweh now opens Isaiah’s eyes to see what was to take place in the location that was known as Damascus.

 

If one trawls through the vast spread of biblical prophecy, no matter where one stands in the interpretation of the predicted events, literal, figurative or metaphorical, one must concede that in the prophetic telescope from Isaiah’s day right through to the very last days, we are told that a horrible series of events will take place in the lands of Israel and Syria. One of these events is the complete annihilation, disappearance even, of the city of Damascus as one of the premiere cities on the planet. Damascus, so we are told, is probably the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world, Damascus has witnessed at least five thousand years of human history, if we are to believe archaeologists and academics. Some historians even believe the city actually dates back to a seventh millennium BC. Not sure about that one!

 

From scouring through Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Amos and Zechariah I am convinced that at some critical moment somewhere in the future, be it near or far, Damascus will once again play a major role in human events.

 

However, the text here in in Isaiah 17 and the first three verses, the prophet Isaiah provides us with God’s own commentary on a foreknown future conflict between Damascus and some unknown and unmentioned force, and in so doing. The prophet declares certain prophecies that have been partially fulfilled in the past. Yet I am strongly of the opinion that the ultimate fulfillment of the majority of Isaiah 17 remains still in our future, that is, I believe it is not all fulfilled.

 

The current existence of Damascus, which will one day cease to be a city, as well as the historical absence of the coalition of nations prophesied to attack Israel and be destroyed by God, is, to me at least, proof that Isaiah 17 prophesies events yet future. Unless one chooses to pretend it is all allegory and parable of course, in which case it could mean anything one wants it to mean.

 

Using my own wordy, yet thorough paraphrased interpretation, this is what Isaiah saw and said concerning Damascus:

 

Damascus3Old Fountain Sarrafian

Damascus. The Old Fountain, Sarrafian.

This divinely revealed prophetic message, this oracle, came to me concerning Damascus: Look! See! Damascus will cease to be and is no longer a city. It will be taken away as a metropolis. It will, disappear and become a heap of fallen ruins, a pile of rubble. The cities of Aroer also will be abandoned, forsaken and deserted. They will be devoted to sheep that will graze in the streets undisturbed and lie down unafraid. There will be no terrorists to make them afraid or to chase them away – Terrorism will be no more. The bulwark of Ephraim will also be removed leaving them without aid or succour, and the royal power of sovereignty in the kingdom of Damascus will end. The few left in Aram (Syria) will be like the splendour of the sons of Israel and share the same fate of Israel’s departed glory. This is the declaration of Yahweh Almighty of Heaven’s Armies, the Lord of hosts” (Isaiah 17:1-3, Lannon’s own paraphrased interpretation).

 

What is future and what is already history? I am talking about a major issue when one reads any of the writing prophets both Major and Minor. I have a problem when all the academics and “students of theology” agree with what seems to me to be an easy way out of explaining the intricacies of what the prophets actually said. Let me explain my own conundrum about Isaiah 17.

 

In 732 BC, Assyria pummelled Damascus and left it standing but depopulated. The Syrian Damascene state had allied with the northern kingdom of Israel just prior to that and had come sweeping southwards to get rid of Judah’s King Ahaz. Why? Because he would not join Damascus and Israel in a futile effort to attempt to withstand Assyria.  It was truly ridiculous. It was like Monaco and Luxembourg joining forces to fight Russia, and them getting upset because the Isle of Man would not join them. The discussion and the strategy of it all was like a TV sitcom.  That aside, the fact was that the allied forces came down to put their own puppet king – a gentile man – on the throne of David in Jerusalem, to rule over the state of Judah. Unfortunately they had little concept of the line they had crossed with Almighty Yahweh. Nobody knows exactly what happened, but their mission to oust Ahaz failed. Shortly after Damascus was castrated and the majority exiled in 732 BC, and then in 722 BC Samaria, the capital city of the northern kingdom of Israel fell. OK! That is the end of that story. Why am I telling you this?

 

I share this because here in chapter 17, Isaiah damns the fortunes of Damascus and Israel with the same breath. So, the academics claim that this section of Isaiah is not in chronological sequence with the other batches of prophecy, and that it is therefore, either Isaiah telling the story after the event (why on earth would a prophet do that? Any unbelieving godless Newspaper reporter could do that.). Or, it is an earlier prophecy given and published by Isaiah before 732 BC, predicting the fall of Damascus and Israel the two allies rebelling against vows made to Assyria. Easy peasy jackamasqueezy. Prophetic problem resolved! The claim is, therefore, that we know exactly the full depths of Isaiah’s vision about Damascus. So let’s move on to Isaiah chapter 18.

 

But wait a minute! Hold on to your horses! I can cope with the possibility that the prophecies against the different nations are not in their real-time chronological sequence. I do not necessarily accept that statement, but I do not think that is necessarily important. But my first question is more important. The first verses of Isaiah 17 explain how Damascus is wiped off the map, and it being so deserted that sheep will graze where Damascus once was. So, how could this prophecy be referring to 732 BC if Damascus was not razed to the ground?

 

“Don’t worry about that one,” say several of the most widely read commentaries, “Damascus has had many ups and downs over the centuries, so Isaiah must have been talking figuratively or metaphorically when he stated those first three verses. 732 BC fits the bill when Assyria beat Damascus and exiled the majority of its population.”

 

Well, folks, this writer utterly contemns that opinion, and the degraded definition of Holy Spirit inspiration that birthed it. The reasons why I think that making Isaiah 17 apply only to 732 BC is a fallacy are as follows.

  1.  The fact that Damascus has never been reduced to grazing fields and has never been totally depopulated tells me that the prophecy has either been fulfilled later, or has not been fulfilled at all as yet. That means that the prophecy’s fulfillment was clearly future to Isaiah, and may very well be still future to us in our generation. I totally reject the stuff and nonsense of those that interpret via the suggestion that Isaiah did not mean what he said. Damascus was not destroyed in the Assyrian conquest. Damascus did not”cease from being a city,” and it was not reduced to “a heap of ruins” as prophesied by Isaiah. Matter settled!
  2. (Just as a “By the way,” to take the conclusion a little further, and to explain the matter from the biblical narrative take note that the Assyrian conquest of Syria (Aram) the capital of which was Damascus, that took place in 732 BC is explained to us in 2 Kings 16 as a historical narrative.  Judah’s king Ahaz initiated the Assyrian tyrant and king Tiglath Pileser III to launch an invasion of Damascus which then was under the reign of king Rezin.  Believe it or not,Ahaz  king of Judah paid for the Assyrian invasion with gold and silver he took from the Temple in Jerusalem. Ahaz was a bit of a faithless man as you can imagine. 2 Kings 16:9 says , “So the king of Assyria heeded him; and the king of Assyria went up against Damascus and took it, carried its people captive to Kir, and killed Rezin.”  But to rub in the point that Damascus was not razed to the ground, in the very next verse we see king Ahaz meeting with Tiglath Pileser in the centre of the city of Damascus. It clearly was still standing. In fact I have read books that claim that while Assyria was in charge of Damascus, Damascus enjoyed some of its most prosperous years ever. So absolutely and certainly Damascus was not destroyed in any manner, and most certainly not according to the prophecy here in Isaiah 17. The Aramean Damascene people of Aram-Damascus were deported as was the sickening Assyrian modus operandi after a conquest. The Assyrians then re-populated the city with people from elsewhere within the empire and Damascus has remained a settled city continuously for the past two and a half millennia.  Volumes that I have read tell me that  Damascus was still mentioned in Assyrian sources in 727 BC, 720 BC, and 694 BC. The city is even mentioned as late as the reign of Ashurbanipal (668–627 BC).  Assyrian decline led to Damascus being taken over by Pharaoh Necho II of Egypt circa 610 BC. Damascus then fell to the Babylonians when Pharoah Necho II lost the epic Battle of Carchemish in 605 BC. In the Persian period, Damascus was an important administrative center, and may have been the capital of the satrapy of Trans-Euphrates (Ezra 4:10, Ezra 8:36; Nehemiah 2:7-9). Around  333 BC there occurred the conquest of Damascus under the rule of Darius III of Persia by Alexander the Great. Damascus was thereafter a Macedonian colony and the capital city of Coele-Syria and Phoenicia to 111 BC. At the risk of boring those of you who hate historical dates and statistics we mention the Roman times when Damascus was conquered from the Seleucid’s by Roman General Pompey in 64 BC, and of course. There are, of course, quite a number of references to Damascus in the New Testament, the many references to Damascus in the New Testament. Why do I put all this stuff in the middle of my own thoughts? I do it simply to make the point that the majority of commentary’s and books and teachings on Isaiah 17  nearly all state that Isaiah 17 is about 732  and 722 BC respectively. However, since 2 Kings 16 does not tell us that Damascus ceased from being a city,” that it became “a ruinous heap” at the hands of Assyria’s Tiglath-Pileser, twe have to conclude that it has not yet been fulfilled as Damascus still stands. )
  3. The fact that Isaiah likens the dissipation of Damascene glory to the dissipation of Israel’s glory (i.e. the Northern kingdom), and seeing that Samaria was dissipated 11 years after the fall of Damascus, makes it nonsense to apply it to the generation that covers 732 and 722 BC. It would be like prophesying to Kaiser Willhelm of Germany in 1914 that, “Your loss of splendour in this war will be similar to Hitler’s loss for Germany in 1945.” How could that make sense if those words were spoken in 1914. So to say, “Damascus the degradation of your glory will be similar to Israel’s loss of glory,” to the Damascene people would not have meant anything at all, because Samaria was still standing when this prophecy was purportedly declared prior to 732. Such a statement could only be stated to the latter dissipation comparing it to the former.
  4.  Why should Isaiah here suddenly insert a passage that is at least 17-18 years old (probably more) when hitherto everything seems to be chronological? I am not insisting strict chronology, neither am I even hinting that the entire volume needs to be chronological in anyway. In fact, I am sure that the strict chronology of his pieces and sections of his book are way down in the list of priorities of his composition of the book. However, the majority of commentators having concluded, fallaciously I believe, that the fall of Damascus here referred to MUST be the fall of 732 BC, one would definitely have to believe that this disjointed piece is out of place. As said in number 2, I discount the thought that verses 1-3 are referring to the Assyrian strategy that brought Damascus down, but something much more in the future.

Obviously, Isaiah 17 is an unfulfilled prophecy! The bottom line is this: Because of the statement of Isaiah that Damascus will be razed to the ground,  and because Damascus still stands, I cannot but conclude that here Isaiah has done a quantum leap in Isaiah 17 and is predicting something in his and our distant future.

Damascus11 The Straight Street of Damascus, the Biblical Street called Straight

The Straight Street of Damascus, the Biblical “Street called Straight”

 

 

110. “The End of days.” Time has a goal. Time will not go on forever as it is. (Isaiah 2:2)

“And it shall come to pass in the end of days [that] the mountain of Jehovah’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills; and all the nations shall flow unto it.” (Isaiah 2:2.)

 

22h

The End of Days will be the End of Time.

Will things ever come to an end? Does this world go on forever? Because there are masses that believe that it has taken billions of years for things to develope into what we have and are today, is that why they are living and talking as if the world will never end? Is it nutty, or is it perfect spiritual sanity to tell people, “The end is near?”

 

Kingdoms and empires have risen and fallen and their narratives fill the history books. As far as the Bible is concerned from Isaiah’s day through to the end of Daniel’s day a world syndrome, or cycle has been clearly seen, predicted and explained in language that needs no interpreter to make plain its profundity.  The Assyrian Empire would rise and then be conquered by another empire; Babylon. Babylon would be larger than Assyria was at its peak, and thereafter the Medo-Persian Empire would rise and conquer Babylon, and rule the known Middle East with more square kilometres than both Assyria and Babylon ever saw. Then along came Alexander the Great who built an empire so vast, it is said that he wept when he realised there were no more nations to conquer. He died early, dividing his Empire into four. Then the Roman Empire arose and demolished the four divisions of what was the original Greek empire.  One has to be intellectually stultified to miss the cyclical process in the cut and thrust of political power in the world. The saga and sequence stated immediately above has clearly taken place and is part of history.  Any history book will validate those empires mentioned, clearly predicted before they arrived on the scene of time by the biblical Old Testament prophets. This series of predictions seen, stated and graphically illustrated in Daniel (especially chapter 2) suggests that history will just roll on and on repeating itself. Wars and conflict, nations rising and falling, empires built and then destroyed, civilisations doing the most uncivilised things to become top dog, and so the human race becomes cynical, depressed and frustrated in it all – unless you are part of the nation and/or empire that tends to be on the rise at the moment.

 

It is logical that people without hope, and without faith, without a moral or spiritual compass, will believe that the world will just roll on and on like the endless waves of the sea. If there is no God, surely the only end in sight is for mankind to destroy itself.

 

However!

 

What I have stated above is incomplete. As I have told it above, is true and correct, but that is not the whole story! To add an unmissable Post Script to this recurring cycle, Daniel and the apostle John added closure to all things.

 

22adaniel-2-image

The cycle of powers rising and disposing of previous powers.

Daniel continued his account of the future by talking of another Roman Empire made of both Iron and clay in its ten toes. And wait for it: nobody has ever reconciled the ten toes of iron and clay to any portion of Roman history, political, geographical or ecclesiastical. In other words – it is still future! What happens to this “other” Roman Empire made of Iron and clay? Daniel explains how it gets annihilated by a rock that comes to smash this kingdom of ten toes (Daniel says that the ten toes will be ten kings). He saw the vision of Nebuchadnezzar’s nightmare that troubled him and the movie of the dream finished with, a stone that was cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. That rock is Christ and His kingdom.

 

We ask Daniel the prophet; “So what does this mean?” and he tells us explicitly, “In the days of these (ten kings) the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever. Inasmuch as you saw that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold—the great God has made known to the king what will come to pass after this.”

 

What’s my point? Or better still; what is God’s point? The point is that when left to itself mankind will rise and conquer, kill and then be killed, rule and then be ruled over in an endless cycle of violence and godlessness. However, God has a set time. There is a point on the calendar of the universe that only God the Father knows when the cycle will come to an end. It is an appointed time that nobody knows but the Father in Heaven.

 

John shows us something also in the book of Revelation.

 

22bIn the book of Revelation, the “ebb and flow of power” syndrome has reached its peak. The ever enlarging empire reaches its zenith. In Revelation 14 we hear that “Babylon is fallen.” And why? “… because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” That is, it wasn’t just one nation’s empire, or a couple of allies challenging the world. What the apostle John saw was a manifestation of Babylon that polluted the whole world. In Revelation 16:19 we have: “And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell; and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath. “ The language infers that all the cities in all the nations in all the earth, fell. The syndrome has mushroomed in John’s vision from a Middle Eastern series of empires, to European and Asian syndromes, to American and then intercontinental power cycles, resulting in the global village imploding in upon itself. Endorsing this “world vision” of spiritual and moral horror, Revelation 17:5 relates Babylon to the entire planet again. “A mysterious name was written on her forehead: “Babylon the Great, Mother of All Prostitutes and Obscenities in the World.” So, in the final show of the rise and fall of empires in the world, all nations are corrupted to the point of being “drunk with fornication,” “all prostitutes and obscenities in the world” as well as “the fall of all cities.” What was true of Assyria, and then of Babylon and onwards through the various sequential empires ruling, the syndrome has tied the entire planet in the evil of the final ruling powers both human and demonic.

 

The picture expands in Revelation 18 when verse 2 imprints on our minds, “And he (an angel) cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.” It covered and influenced, not only the known world of humanity, but in its fall and the end of all humanity that was within her, the skeletal remains of its demonic infestation is all that is left. “Every foul spirit,” was the energy and force that drove Babylon the harlot to its destruction. Verses 10 and 21 of that same eighteenth chapter explains how shocked will the world be at the speed at which Babylon the great whore had fallen. Time will not just roll on for millions and millions of years. The world’s regular routines and cycles will end when Christ returns, and some of it will clearly cease before His appearing. Whether or not time will cease at that time, I very much doubt. However, the return of Christ will be a huge step towards the end of things as we now, at present, know it.

 

22c

Time will close one day

It is God’s intention to “finish” with time someday. The time line of history will be complete, and we and the cosmos shall enter into a timeless eternity.  Isaiah refers to it as “the End of Days” – that is, “the end of time.” It cannot be the end of life, for the resurrected Christ is a man for ever, and so will be the resurrected redeemed. “The End of Days,” is set in God’s diary. Whether it is today, in a year from now, or whether it is thousands of years from today’s date, God has a target to arrive at when all days and times are completed, finished, and a new kingdom will rule on a new earth and impact the universe with the ripples of God’s glory, and Christ’s reign will be visible and seen on the new planet earth. Earth will be linked to heaven, the invisible will be linked to the visible, the spiritual shall rule over the physical and Christ shall be all in all.

 

God will bring absolute closure to the status quo of the world order somewhere along the timeline and He wants us to prepare for it, whether it is tonight, or in ten thousand years’ time.

 

Generally, our thoughts and meditations of life and our reading of the Bible direct us toward the future and what it will bring. Whether it be the personal free-will and choices for our individual futures, our children’s or our nation’s future or, indeed, the world’s future, what lies ahead can be pretty dominant in our hearts. It can be overwhelming sometimes.

 

When the world was fully, and realistically expecting World War III to break out in October 1963 over the Cuban Missile Crisis, even at the age of fourteen it seemed to me that everybody old and young was thrown into the despair of, “We have no future! We are about to die!”  There is a degree to which we have no control over the future. But there is also a sense in which we can take hold of the future by the scruff of the neck and make it our servant and not allow it to become the cruel fascist dictator of all we are and all we do.

 

22d

In these, the closing days of time …

The implications and explications of Isaiah (and not only Isaiah but all the Hebrew writing prophets) and the predictions and exhortations of his preaching are intended for us to choose and to act on our, hopefully, wise choices based on what we have heard from the word of God. “If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat of the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured with the sword; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it” (Isaiah 1:19). That is, one can conduct one’s self in a manner which will result in blessing for us and for others in the end. It is a glorious and straightforward promise from Yahweh Himself. It is also a promise relevant to both Old and New Testament believers. Contrariwise, of course, one can act on bad, wicked and even downright evil advice so that one’s end will be destructive both to self and to others, where the evil committed can have roots that unfairly go under the orchard wall and develop more evil seeds and fruit in somebody else’s garden. When thinking of individuals, all depends upon one’s choices and the road one chooses to follow. A man’s beliefs settle his relationship or non-relationship with God, and the deeds that flow out of the abundance of one’s heart determine one’s happiness or grief, eternal life or eternal death. What thoughts and concepts are the treasure of your heart?

 

Nowhere is it indicated in human philosophy or history that time, such as it is, or countless days gone by, have a destiny, or that that the world and the souls of men per se have a destination, apart from the grave and annihilation. Outside of scripture the general philosophy held is that we will just carry on for millions of years in the imagined process of evolution. But Isaiah, and of course, the whole of biblical teaching tells us that time flows toward a port, a dock, a haven, a full-stop even, which is the veritable goal, the target, the purpose and the objective of all motion in this vast unfathomable and infinite universe. Not only has nobody else called us to see that an “End of Days” (or shall we say, “End of Time”) is on God’s agenda, but its justification and rationalisation is rarely touched on by those that read the scriptures that take us to this thought. The great news brought to the Jews and the world by prophecy is that time does indeed, really have an End, a Purpose.  “And it shall come to pass in the end of days…” (Isaiah 2:2. Darby Literal Translation) and then Isaiah shares about an existence where absolute good and perfect righteousness will prevail.

 

The world-picture which we now have before our own eyes each day in the news and on our streets is far short of the ideal, nor is it the destined world that God has in mind. What has shockingly been the status quo since the fall of Adam, is to cease at the Second Advent of the resurrected Christ, and will move redeemed humanity and indeed the entire universal cosmos towards that state of (Sorry! I cannot avoid the words!) Heaven – quite literally.

 

22eHowever, the goal is not somewhere in a great beyond, in some way out, new age, imaginary, reincarnated after-life. Generally most religious concepts are wont to spell it out thus: Life as we know it is only a corridor, to be followed by eternal life. That is, after our allotted “seventy years, or if by reason of strength eighty years” – only in the hereafter will eternal life begin.” In other words, the individual human being is “promised,” so the lie goes, that reward and/or punishment will be dealt out in the “world to come” – beyond, outside of and nothing to do with the historic experience of life. The goal is over there – beyond the mortal coil we refer to as a lifespan. This is what was said to be the universal human destiny – that of the individual. This is an idea and a concept that I scream as loud as I can in the ears of the world: “Absolute Tosh!”

 

Such an answer may have served and satisfied some individuals, but it hardly serves me and what I read in the Bible, and here especially I am referring to what I read in Isaiah. In the course of history, the biblical prophets asked questions about the destiny of life, the substance of the purpose of life, and, yes, even the very purpose of time, and the days we have within time.

 

The question is: Does time have an end? Do the days of man’s existence have a destination or not? Will we rise again, after death to give a full and detailed account of all we said, did and thought in this life? Will our motivational issues, momentary or lifelong, that led us to do good or evil, be exposed before God and ourselves and be left to His all wise all-knowing judgement?  The prophetic message of Isaiah and all the other biblical prophets give the divinely definitive answer. YES! Time does indeed have a destination. Days have an End. Time will cease. In prophetic language this is referred to as: “The End of Days.” And when this point of existence is reached, the lost will be eternally damned, and the saved and redeemed will be the inheritors of the world, and judges of the angels. The End of Days is where nothing but God and good rule and govern the hearts, ways and circumstances of mankind. It is, and it will be what is most important: The Perfect Good! Nobody will be able to say or think, “God got that wrong!” because it will not be true, and we will be assured of that fact.

 

From this high perspective, a perspective taught us by the Spirit of God Himself in Isaiah and his writings, the fundamental issue is not the question that has engaged religious thought for so long a time, whether man’s impulses and inclinations are evil from his birth or not, but rather: where does the stream, the river – the waterfall of human life flow to? And where does it find its destination? Does it flow toward Yahweh and good? Or does the very life of humanity flow toward nothingness? We can personally and individually chose the answer to those questions.

 

22g

The End of Days

“And Jacob called to his sons and said, ‘Be gathered together, and I declare to you that which happens with you in the latter end of the days” (Genesis 49:1.) When the patriarch Jacob speaks to his sons on his death bed of the “latter end of the days”, he is still within the universe of time and the narrative of the ancients. Jacob’s “End of the Days” are of this earth – all too human. The blessings he then speaks of promise “fat bread” and royal dainties – i.e. this world’s goods. Jacob’s prophetic dying moments also included angry words, concerning Simeon and Levi. All such things come to pass within the range of the ordinary, the world as we know it.

 

Isaiah’s “And it shall come to pass in the end of days…” (Isaiah 2:2. Darby Literal Translation) however, is of an entirely different character. They constitute a new world-order, indeed a new world. And going further, a new dynamic of life, of God and of human purpose.  Isaiah’s “End of Days” does not, to my mind, even involve time as we know it, but rather long term destiny as well as final destination. Mankind and the purposes of God will have “arrived.” Life and the ongoing existence of redeemed humanity, together with angels, cherubim and seraphim will all be in such bliss and harmony and God will be at the centre in the permanent, physical, tangible person and presence of Jesus Christ. Things will have developed, and will be ever expanding in that settled development in such a glorious manner that the “End” that the Just will be experiencing will forever rationally and truthfully justify all that went before.

 

The “End of Days” in Isaiah’s vision means that the “evolution” of the days and the development of God’s purpose in time will manifest in a great End. That day, the anticipated future beyond time, will compensate for man’s suffering and the human aberration that existed in between the fall of man and the Second Advent of Christ. Thus the old status quo of the world will yield to the new revolutionary status of a new world. But all that will occur within the range of history. Here we are dealing not with the struggles and fights of the individual, but rather with the fulfilment of the dreams of all of history, the completion and “arrival” of all that people were made for and meant to be. This is the ultimate intention of the creation of mankind.

 

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In that new order, which the prophet envisioned, new concepts are actualized. First of all, peace among nations. There is no desire for warfare nor any wish for rancour or vengeance. The picture is that of “beating swords to ploughshares” and the presence of the Ultimate Judge among the nations. He Himself will transform the world as we know it, which takes bloodshed for granted, the struggle for power and the banishment of peoples (“exiles”) all that is part of the passing order. Life is set on a stream which flows to a new world where “they will not learn the art of war any more” and “the lion will lie down with the lamb.” I cannot state for a certainty that the prophet meant that the nature of the animal will actually change, or that “the lion will eat straw,” Man will be different and his impulses will be constructive rather than destructive. “On my holy mountain” man will not even have the wish to hurt his fellow man. Such is the picture of the world to which humanity is moving, unconditionally. God has decreed it to be so. For this is the destination for which man was brought into the world. Man has through his misdeeds wandered from the right path, but he will find his way back to it – on the road to his destiny. This is the meaning of faith in the “End of Days.” While the attainment of the ideal world is inevitable as the Almighty’s predestined plan, man can truly hasten its arrival. Man may delay its arrival, for decades, centuries and even millennia, but that other greater, better, eternal divine order will surely arrive. Count on it. Mankind’s ultimate divinely set ideal destination is, to understate things, Good. God has planned a good world, a perfect society and quite literally “heaven on earth.”  And I don’t think it will stop there.

 

This is the optimum of optimism, the most perfect of all that is perfect, the heaven of all heavens which Isaiah, and indeed the entire Old Testament bequeathed to us all. As human beings, created by God this is the inheritance of those that choose to love God with all their hearts, minds and bodies, and to love mankind as much as they love themselves.

 

It is more than painfully obvious that very little of the prophetic ideal has been realized since Adam fell. Nevertheless, much of what has happened in the full revelation of God in the scriptures, the development of Israel and faith, the spread of faith in Messiah throughout the gentile world and the closure of time in an unmeasured and incalculable point of time is fully and graphically explained by the direction pointed to by Isaiah and his prophetic burdens and visions. To Isaiah, that new order of a world in which peace is to reign, justice is to prevail and Israel is to play a, if not the central role in society under the grace of the physical presence of Messiah – that vision is the solid reality of the future – the certain “End of Days.”  Amos and Zephaniah spoke of, “The “Day of the Lord” or of, “That Day,” as that which is to be man’s lot; Judgement not blessing, darkness and not light.” Isaiah, however, lives on a more distant planet, with a much more futuristic viewpoint and turns it all around. That Day will see the culmination of the best of man’s hope and potential. The very Chesed of God shall dominate the entire cosmos. The human heart will be true and straight and desperately righteous. Grace and peace will flow like a river to and from That Day.  And in the great finale of the planet, trust me when I say – and if you can’t trust me, trust Isaiah, when he tells us that Israel and Jerusalem will be the glorious arena where this great human divine drama will be staged – within the sight of all peoples, and the descendants of Abraham’s line who lived in faith will host the pilgrim nations who flock to sit at the feet of the Mighty King on David’s throne.

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