Psalm 83: The Coming War? - Bill Koenig
August 15, 2001
Revisiting Psalm 83
There is a growing number of prophecy experts who believe that the next major war between the Israelis and their Middle East enemies will most likely be a regional war, without superpower backing. I find myself in agreement with this position, based upon Biblical insight, combined with my active “daily eye” on the happenings in Israel.
These recent observations have led me to conclude that the Gog and Magog invasion—as prophesied in Ezekiel 38 and 39 with Russia as a key protagonist—is more likely connected to the final war of Armageddon. Although there continue to be various theories about the predicted Gog and Magog scenario, more and more people are beginning to agree with this conclusion.
Having said this, I invite you to revisit, with me, Psalm 83, subtitled “A song. The psalm of Asaph,” in this prose format from the King James Bible:
“Do not keep silent, O God! Do not hold your peace, and do not be still, O God! For behold, Your enemies make a tumult; And those who hate You have lifted up their head. They have taken crafty counsel against Your people, and consulted together against Your sheltered ones. They have said, ‘Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation, that the name of Israel may be remembered no more.’ For they have consulted together with one consent; they form a confederacy against You:
“The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites; Moab and the Hagrites; Gebal, Ammon, and Amalek; Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre; Assyria also has joined with them; they have helped the children of Lot. Deal with them as with Midian, as with Sisera, as with Jabin at the Brook Kishon, who perished at En Dor, who became as refuse on the earth. Make their nobles like Oreb and like Zeeb, all their princes like Zebah and Zalmunna, who said, ‘Let us take for ourselves the pastures of God for a possession.’
“O my God, make them like the whirling dust, like the chaff before the wind! As the fire burns the woods, and as the flame sets the mountains on fire, so pursue them with Your tempest, and frighten them with Your storm. Fill their faces with shame, that they may seek Your name, O LORD. Let them be confounded and dismayed forever; yes, let them be put to shame and perish, that they may know that You, whose name alone is the LORD, are the Most High over all the earth.”
Asaph begins his psalm by calling out to God to "not be quiet; do not be silent and, O God, do not be still." The reason for his concern is then revealed in the next verses (two through five). This concern could easily be equated with the nations of today’s world, where the only nation who has stood by Israel (although even that is questionable) has been the United States.
The oil-rich Arab nations have used their energy trump card to get their way against Israel with the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the United Nations (U.N.), the European Union (E.U.) and even the United States—all of whom are dependent upon and lust after the black gold.
In the New International Version of the Bible, the translation reads, “See how your enemies are astir, how your foes raise their heads. With cunning, they conspire against your people; they plot against those you cherish. ‘Come,’ they say, ‘let us destroy them as a nation, that the name of Israel be remembered no more.’ With one mind, they plot together; they form an alliance against you.”
These enemies that are targeting Israel are their neighbors for the most part, as well as all other Arab nations. Asaph identifies them in verses 6 through 8: “The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites; Moab and the Hagrites; Gebal, and Ammon, and Amalek; Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre; Assyria also has joined with them; They have become a help to the children of Lot.”
Bible scholars tell us that there is no evidence that such a regional war—uniting ten enemies to the north, east, south, and southeast of Israel—ever occurred in ancient times! The “Revised New Bible Commentary” (Eerdmans, 1970) states: “No such widespread alliance of adjacent states, as is described in verses 6-8 (of Psalm 83) is mentioned in the Old Testament.”
It appears that this psalm is talking of a military alliance against Israel. The nations that surround Israel and other members of the Arab League today talk with increasing frequency about "eliminating Israel." An actual military plan is being discussed in a plot against the Kingdom of God. This alliance is very significant.
The plan could be an end-time scenario against the Jewish State formed in 1948. All the present day descendants were involved in the 1948 and 1967 pre-planned assaults upon Israel.
Who Are These Enemies?
(The following is an adaptation from David Dolan’s “Israel’s Next War” commentary on Psalm 83. It was written on 12/07/2000.)
The first seven groups named in Psalm 83 were all located east of Israel. They were tribes whose moving boundaries often overlapped.
The first two, Edom and the Ishmaelites, are synonymous today with the entire Arab-Muslim world. This is because both people groups are thought to have migrated further south into the Arabian Peninsula--the seat of Islam. Moreover, Ishmael is a significant figure in Islamic theology. So in modern terms, these names could be referring to Saudi Arabia, which backed front-line Arab forces in 1948 and 1967, and/or to the entire Arab-Muslim world that stretches from Morocco to Oman.
Moab was located east of the Dead Sea, with Edom to its south and Ammon to the north. The other listed eastern tribes--the Hagrites, Gebal and Amalek--mingled in this area. The name Ammon, of course, is with us today. It is the capital of Jordan (typically spelled Amman in English). Jordan played a pivotal role in both the 1948 and 1967 wars.
Tyre was the leading city of Phoenicia in early Bible times. This area is now part of Lebanon, who was involved in both the Independence and Six-Day wars, although its military contribution was negligible. Southern Lebanon has been the active battle line between Arabs and Jews since the early 1970’s.
The Philistines were believed to have sailed from Canaan to the Greek island of Crete, or from the Anatolian region of western Turkey. Wherever they originated, iron-wielding Philistine warriors proved formidable enemies to the Hebrew tribes, but were eventually absorbed by attacking Assyrian forces and disappeared as a separate people group.
Philistia was resurrected by the Romans, who applied that name to the Promised Land in an attempt to obliterate the Jewish connection to Zion. This occurred after the Roman legions destroyed Judea in AD 70. The main Philistine town was named Gaza, which today is the current seat of the Palestinian autonomy government, while the Gaza Strip is home to over one million Palestinians. This fact gives us a hint that they are today’s equivalent of the ancient Philistines. The very name "Palestinians" is likely derived from the ancient Philistines.
Palestinian Arabs were at the center of the wars that broke out in 1948 and 1967. If their leaders had accepted the 1947 United Nations partition plan, the neighboring Arab states would have found it difficult to attack the new Jewish State. Since that time, however, Palestinian struggles have offered a major excuse for other Arab states and the Islamic peoples to come against the reborn and enormously productive State of Israel.
The last nation mentioned is the Assyrian empire, which acts as "a help to the children of Lot.” The Biblical Hebrew states that Assyria became an extension of Lot’s descendants and covered the enormous territory of several modern countries, ranging from western Iran, to parts of Turkey, most of Syria, and even down to portions of Egypt’s Nile River. Although it was centered in what is known today as Iraq, the capital of Assyria was Nineveh, situated on the banks of the Tigris River.
Iraq played a very active role in both the 1948 and 1967 Middle East wars. However, it was mainly a support role, with Iraqi forces backing up those of Jordan and Syria. In that sense, Assyria’s modern equivalent was literally acting as a "helpful arm" to the eastern front-line states.
Today, Iraq is a much more dominant force in the region and is more of an instigator than a support vehicle. Syria, according to Jane’s Intelligence Report, has the most advanced chemical weapons in the world. Jordan does not really have an effective military machine and will play more of a support role, if pushed. Their challenge lies in their location next to both Syria and Iraq.
A Familiar Scenario
In summary, the nations where the ten ancient people groups and tribes mentioned in Psalm 83 live today, are Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and the Palestinian territories within Israel.
As the Middle East tensions increase daily, how often do we hear spokesmen from these countries saying, in so many words, “Let us take the pastures of God for a possession.” (Psalm 83:12)
To them, Asaph would answer, “Let them be confounded and dismayed forever; yes, let them be put to shame and perish, that they may know that You, whose name alone is the LORD, are the Most High over all the earth.” (Psalm 83:17-18)
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