Updated: Oct 27
(Opinion piece by Pastor Robbie Coleman)
The Iron Dome air defense system fires to intercept a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, in Ashkelon, October 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Avi Roccah)
On October 7, 2023, Israel suffered the worst atrocity in fifty years. On the eighth day of Sukkot, also known as Simchat Torah, terrorists from Hamas declared war against Israel. This day is usually filled with celebrations and lots of joy (Leviticus 29:39). Instead, Israel was awakened to the shrill sound of sirens, not knowing the extent of the attack against them. Literally, all eyes are upon Israel, many with overwhelming compassion, although the voices of antisemitism are disconcertingly hateful.
I’ve repeatedly been asked to explain what it all means prophetically. In this writing, I will give my opinion on where I think we are headed, but I insist you make your own conclusion.
End-time prophecy is best understood when the sequence of events is in proper order. Each prophet in the Bible holds a piece of the puzzle. Jesus revealed even more about the last days. Still, we ask the same question the disciples asked: “When will these things take place?” (Luke 21:7).
Like a puzzle, we study the picture on the box before positioning the pieces. However, with biblical prophecy, we can delicately assemble the picture but still ponder when. Jesus warned that we would not know the day or hour. Those who give specific times are probably wrong.
The present war (Oct. 2023) has most Bible scholars scratching their heads, trying to decide where it fits in scripture. I am looking again at Psalm 83 in light of the current situation. To be perfectly honest, I felt Psalm 83 had previously taken place since certain Arab countries have tried to wipe Israel out for centuries. However, could it be that it plays out right before our eyes?
They have said, "Come, and let us cut them off from being]a nation, That the name of Israel may be remembered no more." (Psalm 83:4)
This war is not Ezekiel 38-39
Ezekiel 37 is a process that began when Israel was reborn and populated with the seed of Abraham in 1948. The dry bones came to life after centuries of harsh persecution from the nations. After watching the vision of dry bones coming to life, Ezekiel heard God call them “an exceeding great army” (Ezekiel 37:10).
They had to be mighty because God knew the wars that would ensue to maintain possession of the Land.
It is evident that the Simchat Torah War is not Ezekiel 38 but could lead to that war. Russia and her alliances, no doubt, are looking closely and deciding when to strike Israel. We can be sure they will study Hamas’ successes and mistakes and use that knowledge to their advantage.
Did someone within Israeli intelligence look the other way to allow their people to be ravaged and slaughtered? For all the reasons the invasion was executed, it was not to the degree Hamas and those who funded and trained them intended.
This was a huge wake-up call not only for Israel but also for the world. Will Israel ever feel secure again? The answer is crucial in positioning Ezekiel 38 in its proper place (see Ezekiel 38:11-12).
Tell Gog that Adonai Elohim says this: “Won’t you be aware of it when my people Israel are living in security? You will choose just that time to come from your place in the far reaches of the north, you and many peoples with you…you will invade my people, Israel like a cloud covering the land…so that the nations will know me when, before their eyes, I am set apart as holy through you, O Gog. (Ezekiel 38:14-16)
(Picture: Iron Dome in action. credit:Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
After the dry bones received life, God told Ezekiel to join the two sticks—Judah and Israel (37:16). Before the Simchat Torah War, we witnessed brother against brother because of the complex political climate. This war has brought about an intense unification among the Jewish people that crosses all political, religious, and economic classifications. They are remarkably coming together as one, like I’ve never seen before.
The current assailants are from Gaza and Lebanon, bordering Arab countries. Ezekiel 38 is an invasion from the north of Israel—Russia, Turkey, and their alliances, including Persia (Iran), Sudan, Libya, and possibly others (Ezekiel 38:2, 5-6).
There will be no one who helps Israel during the Ezekiel War, but there will be God’s supernatural intervention (Ezekiel 38:17–23). Fortunately, many countries are standing with Israel today.
Whether the war Ezekiel describes is before or in the middle of the Tribulation, God has a set time to draw Gog of Magog into His arena. Many scholars believe that Ezekiel 38–39 is Armageddon, which occurs at the end of the Tribulation. Read the final verses of Chapter 38 to see if you agree.
There will be a great earthquake in the land of Israel…and every human being there in the land will tremble before me. Mountains will fall…making myself known in the sight of many nations, then they will know that I am God. (Ezekiel 38:17-23)
Interestingly, It will take Israel seven months to bury the dead and cleanse the land, and seven years to burn the weapons (Ezekiel 39:9, 12). The result of the Ezekiel war will be a time of repentance (Ezekiel 39:22–29, Joel 2:28).
Is this war Psalm 83?
There are two Muslim groups—Sunni and Shia. Of the 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide, 85% are Sunni, the less radical group of the two (cfr.org). The countries with the highest proportion of Sunni Muslims in the Middle East include Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia (history.com). The majority of the Arab nations of Ezekiel 38 could possibly be Sunni. The terrorists today are Shia and have Iran as their leader.
Psalm 83 is a war that starts with a hateful voice: “Come and let’s wipe them out as a nation; let the name of Israel be remembered no more!” (83:4). This is most likely a reference to the Palestinian Authority, that has in its charter a determination to wipe out Israel. Notes found in the pockets of the fallen terrorists prove that fact. Psalm 83 infers that all those who hate Israel perish.
The final end is to teach those aggressors that “God is eternal and most high.” Psalm 83 is about the Arab League. Verses 6–8 include Edomites, Ishmaelites, Hagrites, Ammonites, and Philistines (Gaza area). Is this the war that will cause many Arabs to lay down their weapons against Israel?
We almost see a peaceful union between the sons of Ishmael and the sons of Isaac in Ezekiel 38. For example, verse 13 references Dedan (Saudi Arabia), Sheba (possibly Yemen or Ethiopia), and the young lions of Tarshish (Gulf of Aden). They seem to stand in unity with Israel. They tell the evil alliance, “Have you come to take spoils?"
I have many Arab friends who are doing an about-face concerning Israel. Just last week, a well-known Muslim cleric throughout Saudi Arabia took to the airwaves, expressing disapproval of the Palestinians. He is at a boiling point because of the massacre. Just when the Abrahamic accords were moving in a positive direction, terrorists, known as Hamas, were harbored in Gaza, committing some of the worst atrocities ever in the Middle East.
So why are the Arab nations not in the Magog union? They have either been defeated or had a change of heart.
Saudi Arabia has started limited relations with Israel. A local Israeli news source recently published an article by Adam Berkowitz, “Egypt has been reluctant to accept refugees from the outset of the war,” and expressed concern that “there are no guarantees that the refugees from Gaza will return to their homes after Israel’s war against Hamas is complete” (Israel365 News). King Abdullah also refused to open his borders to refugees, concerned that the refugees would remain in Jordan. President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) said, “Hamas’ policies and actions do not represent the Palestinian people."
I contend that the Psalm 83 war does not destroy all Arab nations but leads them to reality. Isaac and Ishmael put aside their grievances to bury their father, Abraham. “Just as “Esau ran to meet him (Isaac), hugged him, threw his arms around him, and kissed him” (Genesis 25:9). If indeed the Tanach serves as a shadow of the future, then there will be some level of reconciliation between Jacob and Esau.
We may begin to see some fractures in the wall of hate. While I don’t think we will see any quick changes in relations between Jews and Palestinians, I see a beginning. My Arab friends are very tired of their present leaders. They say they only want peace and are glad to work and live in Israel. The Palestinians need trustworthy leadership.
In the future, they will be one with us. But for now, the actions being carried out in the name of “the Arabs” do not represent the majority, and if what I see in scripture is correct, those who remain will stand with Israel. This may be how Israel will be “a land of secure and unwalled before the Magog War of Ezekiel 38 (Ezekiel 38:8, 11).
Thus I will magnify Myself and sanctify Myself, and I will be known in the eyes of many nations. Then they shall know that I am the LORD." (Ezekiel 38:23)