In obedience to Christ’s command to ‘watch’ and ‘pray’ (Mark 13:32-37) we are observing the ongoing war in the Middle East and lining it up with Bible prophecy. This month we look at the yet-to-be-fulfilled invasion of Israel according to Psalm 83.
As of this moment, Israel is at war. Not just the ‘state of war’ it has been in since its birth in 1948. It is an actual hot, fierce, and furious war. And unlike earlier wars in 1948, 1956, 1967, 1969-70, 1973, 1982, 2006, and earlier Hamas wars (2008, 2012, 2014), this current war presents an existential threat to the Jewish state and the world.
We have learned that Israel’s current war is multi-dimensional:
- Bi-lateral Dimension: This war is between Israel and Hamas;
- Regional Dimension: Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen, and Iran to the east are also part of this conflict;
- Civilisational Dimension: It is a fight between ‘Christianised’ Western civilisation and the part of the non-Western world that is rabidly anti-Judaeo-Christian.
- Theological Dimension: Judaeo-Christian (Biblical) eschatology vs. Islamic eschatology. Eschatology is the doctrine of last things or end times;
- Spiritual Dimension: Ultimately this earthly conflict is a proxy war for the heavenly spiritual war. Daniel 10 (Prince of Persia) and Ephesians 6:10-18 have much to say on this topic.
The current war keeps foreign secretaries, military officials, defence contractors and economists abuzz with concern, speculation, and forecasting. To this, we add another group: Bible prophecy teachers. They are eagerly observing these events to get insight into the future
It bears emphasising that Bible prophecy is good for the Christian believer and the Church collectively. It is a ‘light that shines in a dark place’ (2 Peter 1:19), an incentive for holy living and evangelism, builds up and comforts the Church, and provides a heads up to the future. Prophetically awake and aware believers are better equipped to face tomorrow with confidence since they already know what to expect.
When it comes to Israel – a name used 2,568 times in the Bible – it is a prominent subject in the last days (Daniel 9:24). Some of the events surrounding it involve war. There are several armed conflicts to choose from. Psalm 2, which we covered in an earlier article, speaks of general end-time turmoil and resistance to the coming of the King and His Kingdom to earth. There is Ezekiel 38-39, popularly known as the ‘Gog and Magog’ War. Zechariah 12 and 14 provide fascinating details of the last great war awaiting the appearance of the Messiah. Then, of course, is the campaign of Armageddon, mentioned in Revelation 16:16 and detailed in Revelation 19, when Christ appears as the rider on the white horse.
Our focus in this article will be Psalm 83.
Psalm 83: The Neighbours are Restless
One of the lesser-known but significant last-day prophecies involves an invasion of Israel by the neighbouring nations, found in the Eighty-Third Psalm. Due to its geographical location as a land bridge between Africa and Eurasia, the nation of Israel has been subject to all kinds of invasions, from near and far, throughout the millennia. Did Israel experience the Psalm 83 invasion historically? Or is it yet to come in the future?
One mandatory requirement is that a nation-state called ‘Israel’ had to be in the promised land during this invasion. Such a nation-state ceased to exist after the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. To the best of our knowledge, the closest possible fulfilment happened in the Arab invasion of the newly declared State of Israel in May 1948. Yet, even here, it appears that Psalm 83 has a more extensive list of invaders than what transpired in 1948. If this is the case, then fulfilment is yet for a future time.
The psalmist is calling upon God to take action against this neighbouring conspiracy against His people. Their goal is simple: to cut Israel off from being a nation so that its name will no longer be remembered. In other words, it is an unprovoked, gratuitous war of annihilation.
Psalm 83 Invaders
Central West Jordan
Southern Israel or Northern Sinai
Syria and Northern Iraq
|Children of Lot
Moab & Ammon
There is a significant nation that is not listed in the Psalm 83 invasion coalition: Egypt. This is a big omission. It is not as if Egypt is unknown in Scripture; indeed, it is mentioned 611 times in 558 verses in the KJV. Why is Israel’s most important and populous neighbour overlooked? That is an important question but beyond the scope of this article. One guess: the 1979 Israel-Egypt peace treaty stays intact – miraculously.
The 1948 War against Israel involved Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Iraq, though the participation of the last four nations was very limited. If our interpretation is correct, Assyria, Gebal, the Ishmaelites and the Hagarenes were not involved either. In Psalm 83, it appears that every nation that shares a border with Israel is part of the invasion force (except for Egypt)
As we consider the plausibility of a Psalm 83 invasion happening in our lifetime, consider this. The historic Abraham Accords of 2020 gave Israel peace treaties with four Arab nations: Morocco, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, and Sudan. Saudi Arabia is waiting to make peace, too. Yet, despite this breakthrough of peace and moderation, Israel’s enemies today are as ferocious and dangerous as ever, particularly Iran and its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah. This current war proves it. So if the Hamas war continues, other parties might join the conflict, making it regional. This means a Psalm 83-style invasion becomes all the more plausible.
What is the result of this unprovoked spontaneous invasion of Israel? The text does not say; however, it offers this curse:
Do unto them as unto the Midianites; as to Sisera, as to Jabin, at the brook of Kison: 10 Which perished at Endor: they became as dung for the earth. 11 Make their nobles like Oreb, and like Zeeb: yea, all their princes as Zebah, and as Zalmunna: 16 Fill their faces with shame; that they may seek thy name, O LORD. 17 Let them be confounded and troubled for ever; yea, let them be put to shame, and perish:18 That men may know that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the most high over all the earth — Psalm 83:9-11; 16-18 (KJV)
In summary, Psalm 83 involves a coordinated last-day invasion of Israel by its neighbours, but without the involvement of Egypt. How does Psalm 83 fit into the bigger prophetic picture? One possible outcome is that the neighbours invade and lose the war. They are thus put out of action. This allows for the Gog and Magog scenario with a secondary ring of nations joining a coalition to destroy the Jewish state.
Despite these and other strong words, there is a redemptive side to it all. The last verse is a prayer asking that all involved will know that God alone, named Jehovah, is the Most High over all the earth. As we observe the current unfolding drama in the Middle East, remember that we are called to ‘watch and pray’ (Matthew 26:41; Mark 13:35-37) that the people of the Middle East and nations of the world will come to know the Most High God in their personal lives.